Stage 8: Atar - Nouakchott
January 7, 2006
Connection 34 km - Special 508 km - Connection 26 km
Total 568 km
On the first part of the special, the windy route crosses canyons and wadis. Competitors will feel themselves shot like a pinball against the massifs. After the series of zigzags, a very fast stretch will temp the most itchy to push the speedo. But over-confidence could lead to bad surprises.
Latecomers, mechanical repairs, funny stories and nightmares... Life goes on after night fall in the Dakar bivouac. Every morning, don't miss out on what happened!
21h00 -- Longer time delays
Due to the many problems witnessed by the competitors during the special, the organisers have decided, with the race officials to extend the time delay. Event director gave firther details during the evening's briefing: "the bikes will need to make it before 10:00 AM and the cars before 13:00 AM to be able to start the next stage between Atar and Nouakchott. The bikers will also need an medical OK from the doctors to take off."
23h30 -- Fast Assistance
Stephane Henrard, competing in a 2005 Race Touareg lent by Volkswagen, didn't really suffer too many problems on the day but lost a lot of time helping Bruno Saby stopped with mechanical problems. "It was part of the agreement to be able to have this car. I am here to help out the official Volkswagen drivers if necessary for spare parts or a helping hand. We therefore tried to sort out his injector problem, but there was nothing we could do. So I tried to pull him but after 15kms I saw that the car wouldn't be able to carry on. Bruno told me to carry on. It's a shame because I was in a situation to move up the overall standing but the 2 hours spent with Bruno change my ambition."
23h45 -- Specials for Saby
Chris Nissen, team manager of Volkswagen, has lost a lot during the stage going from Zouerat to Atar, especially concerning Bruno Saby who only just had made it to the bivouac. "He was stopped in the special because he was missing a tool to repair the injector. They therefore had to wait for the assistance truck and were then towed. Now we have to repair, it'll still take another three hours. What happened isn't at all his fault. Now he's going for stage victories".
0h10 -- Relaxed Tchaguine
Vladimir Chagin is possibly one of the few to accept fate and the lost hours in the dunes. Enjoying a two hour overall lead on Firdaus Kabirov, he only had a 1h20 advantage at the end of the day, after having lost 1h50 in the sand. "We damaged a wheel and we were stuck in the sand. Once we had repaired, I really attacked a lot to catch up my time loss and it worked out well. I can be relaxed because I still have an enjoyable lead."
0h15 -- Fright for Fretigne
In the Yamaha workshop, Nicolas and Christian are working on David Fretigne's 450cc that was badly damaged during the after-noon. "He suffered two falls including one where he went frontwards. We've been working on the bike since 7:00PM".
0h40 -- Gain time!
All seems rather calm in the BMW -- Xraid team, the drivers haven't suffered too many problems. "I'm just going to change Alfie Cox's transmission to gain time for rest day," explains the chief mechanic.
0h50 -- Repairs in the dunes
Isabelle Patissier has a quick diner at the bivouac. Because of a broken wheel triangle, the former climbing World champion stayed on the stage for a long time. "After stopping, we saw a T4 vehicle that gave us material to repair the car. We were able to finish but we really struggled. Now we have to change the broken part."
3h45 -- At the bivouac
134 bikes, 100 cars and 34 trucks had made it to the finish of the stage.
08:06 - Need to rest?
Whether a biker, a car driver or a truck driver, yesterday's day was long and maybe not even finished for many. Those who will have reached the finish will now be able to enjoy. Today, there won't be too much navigation, less dune crossings but spectacular sceneries. The landscapes will be varied with canyon crossings. The terrain should allow going rather fast. And that will allow the competitors to make it to Nouakchott as quickly as possible and enjoy the rest day.
The tracks of the special will allow the competitors to make the best of their car capacities especially when it comes to speed. The Schlesser-Ford buggies could be victorious. After yesterday's deception with all hopes of overall victory fading away for Magnaldi and Schlesser, the blue cars will do their best to capture stage glory.
10:47 - Esteve fastest at CP1
SPaniard Isidre Esteve has clocked the fastest time at CP1 (km 165). The KTM-Gauloises leader has a 1'57" lead on compatriot Marc Coma, 2'32" on Sala and 3'59" on De Gavardo.
11:09 - Despres loses further time
Still suffering from is shoulder injury, Cyril Despres made it to CP1 well behind his main rivals. The Frenchman is 11'39" adrift.
11:38 - Despres in serious pain
At refulleing after CP1, Cyril Despres admitted that he was really suffering from his shoulder injury. It seems to be hurting him more and more. The Frenchman's main goal is to make it to the rest day in order to rest his shoulder.
11:52 - First cars take off
The first few cars have started their day's timed special. The first driver to take off was Stephane Peterhansel, winner of yesterday's special (at 10:35AM).
12:00 - Struggling in the dunes
As expected the bikers have struggled to go through the dune section at km 240. Riders like Jean De Azevedo and Pal-Anders Ullevalseter have lost time on the four day's leaders (Coma, De Gavardo, Sala, Esteve). Later on today, the privateers should seriously suffer in this very tricky dune portion.
12:09 - Bikers take off late
Quite a few riders made it late to the start but were allowed to take off: 70 - 84 - 130 - 121 - 178 - 176 - 199 and 122.
12:12 - Puncture for Sainz
At km 26 of the special, Carlos Sainz (Volkswagen) suffered a puncture. He was then stuck in the sand and asked tourists to help him push the Race Touareg.
12:16 - Despres through dune portion
Despite a fall, Cyril Despres managed to go through the difficult km 240 dune portion. A group just a head of the Frenchman struggled in the sand but also managed to go through: Fretigne (who had a fall), De Azevedo, Ullevalseter and Caldecott.
12:38 - Peter in race lead
Four cars have so far made it to km 60 in the following order: Peterhansel, Alphand, Kleinschmidt and De Villiers.
12:43 - Sainz still stopped
Spaniard Carlos Sainz is still stopped at km 26, apparently suffering mechanical problems. The winner of three specials on this Dakar has been stopped for the last 30'.
13:08 - Rear wheel problems for Sainz
Carlos Sainz stopped at km 26 appears to have seriously damaged his rear wheel after backing up and hitting a big rock. The Spaniard is currently being helped out by his assistance vehicle. Meanwhile, Bruno Saby who suffered serious mechanical problems yesterday, started the day's special.
13:39 - Despres fastest at CP2
Huge surprise at CP2 (km 371), Cyril Despres has the fastest time so far. The Frenchman with his badly injured shoulder has a 5'20" lead on team mate Isidre Esteve, 8'56" on Marc Coma, 10'11 on Giovanni Sala and 15'21" on Carlo De Gavardo.
13:52 - Despres finds the right way
Surprisingly the fastest at CP2, it appears that Cyril Despres found the correct way to go while his main rivals (Coma, Esteve, De Gavardo) struggled to find a way-point. Despres was riding alongside his team mate David Casteu. His injured shoulder wasn't too much of a concern, but the Frenchman was complaining about a right wrist tendinitis.
14:02 - Casteu fastest at CP2
New update on the bike race... With 14 riders having reached CP2, the new fastest time is for David Casteu. The KTM-Gauloises has a 55" lead on Chris Blais while team mate Cyril Despres is 2'29" adrift. Isidre Esteve was at 7'50" and overall leader Marc Coma had lost 11'25".
14:12 - Alphand fastest at CP1
Taking off second of the special, Luc Alphand (Mitsubishi) has the fastest time so far with a 20" advantage on team mate Stephane Peterhansel. Third is Thierry Magnaldi (SCH) at 3'19", followed by Miller (VW) at 4'52" and Schlesser at 7'05".
14:16 - Kleinschmidt stopped
Volkswagen's Jutta Kleinschmidt was seen stopped with 21kms to go before CP1.
14:35 - Kleinschmidt late at CP1
Jutta Kleinschmidt who was seen stopped before CP1, eventually made it to the first check point, losing 46'11" on Luc Alphand.
14:38 - The Mitsus stuck in the sand
At the very tricky dune portion of km 240, both leading Mitsubishi's of Luc Alphand and Stephane Peterhansel were struggling in the sand.
15:15 - Casteu wins specials
David Casteu captured his first ever success on a Dakar. The Frenchman clocked the fastest time of the day beating Chris Blais by 2'13". Third was Cyril Despres, 2'17" adrift. Overall leader Marc Coma loses 8' on the day's winner.
15:19 - Sainz heading back to start
Spaniard Carlos Sainz (VW) who suffered mechanical problems on his rear wheel was heading back to the start of the special, towed by an assistance truck.
15:21 - Alphand and Roma in trouble
The two Mitsubishis of Luc Alphand and Nani Roma were seen stuck in the sand at km 285. Meanwhile Stephane Peterhansel looks to be storming to a possible second consecutive stage win.
15:52 - Peter fastest at CP2
STephane Peterhansel has clocked the fastest time at CP2 (km 406). The Mitsubishi title holder has a 1'06" on team mate Nani Roma and 7'10" on Luc Alphand.
17:07 - Magnaldi wins special
Thierry Magnaldi captured his second special victory of the Dakar after wining in Zouerat. The French Schlesser-Ford driver clocked the fastest time enjoying a 6'52" lead on Peterhansel and 7'55" on Nani Roma.
17:11 - Peterhansel new overall leader
Stephane Peterhansel is the new overall leader of the car race. The title holder has a 32" advantage on team mate Luc Alphand.
17:39 - Miller sets second best time in the stage
American Mark Miller, at the wheel of his Race Touareg II, finished the 508 km stage in the same second as Stephane Peterhansel at 6'52'' behind today's winner, Thierry Magnaldi.
18:43 - Carlos Sainz re-starts
The Volkswagen driver, stopped since this morning at km 26 after having hit a stone, was helped out by his assistance truck. The repairs have been made; the Spaniard will try to reach Nouakchott within the allotted time.
19:58 - Stage win for Kabirov
In the truck division, Firdaus Kabirov set the best stage time with a 5'25 " advance from Mans Stacey and a 51'56 '' gap over Vladimir Chagin, who once again got caught in the sand, at km 230 of the stage. He still leads in the general standings with a 30'32 lead from Kabirov.