Series stage eight report

The film of the stage Despres on the climb, Sainz at ease This 8th very quick stage of the Dakar resembled a last warm-up before tackling the big dunes Chile has to offer. Cyril Despres was the quickest on the way to La Serena and continues to...

The film of the stage

Despres on the climb, Sainz at ease

This 8th very quick stage of the Dakar resembled a last warm-up before tackling the big dunes Chile has to offer. Cyril Despres was the quickest on the way to La Serena and continues to climb up the general standings. The Frenchman has climbed onto a place on the provisional podium, but is still one and a half hours behind leader Marc Coma. Sainz reacquainted himself with rallying sensations on a route tailor-made for him, on which he distanced Nani Roma, who finished fourth, by another several minutes. In the quad race, Machacek picked up his 3rd stage victory, strengthening his lead in the general standings.

Following a well deserved rest day on the shores of the Pacific, the bikers resumed battle in a fairly gentle manner before the three stages in the Atacama Desert, the genuine high-point of the Dakar in 2009. Today's program included 294 kilometers on quick and winding tracks.

Chilean Francisco Lopez, who kicked off proceedings for this first special stage in his native land, knew that it would be difficult to grab another victory. The KTM Vectra rider was first caught up with by Marc Coma then by Cyril Despres, who took advantage to post the best time at CP 1 (after 180 km). The three riders then rode on together toward the finishing line in La Serena, again on the coast, opening up a considerable gap on their nearest pursuers. It was naturally Despres who picked up his second special stage victory on this Dakar after his success on the stage to Mendoza. The Frenchman beat Marc Coma by 1.49, a paltry advance in terms of the big picture but he still clawed back time nonetheless, and Lopez by 2.56

This 18th stage victory for Despres on the Dakar takes him up to third place in the general standings, taking advantage of a substandard performance from Jonah Street, who finished 34 minutes behind the winner, and a display slightly less below par from Pal Anders Ullevalseter. The title holder is still 1 hour 33 minutes behind Coma, however. Apart from the several minutes lost to Despres, the Catalan had another excellent day, improving his lead over his nearest rival, David Fretigne, who finished 4th today and struggled somewhat on his 450cc, leaving him 1hour and 6 minutes behind the Spaniard.

In the quad category, the title holder Josef Machacek continued his march toward triumph. The Czech won his 3rd special stage on this 31st edition of the Dakar. The Yamaha rider beat his main rival for victory, Argentinean rider Patronelli, by 2.51 increasing his comfortable lead in the general standings to 2 hours and 30 minutes.

The leader of the general standings in the car race probably really enjoyed himself on the route of the day's special stage. Quick and sometimes winding, the stage was a perfect reminder for the Spaniard of his exploits in the 1990s on the WRC circuit. As a result Carlos Sainz almost naturally won the 8th timed stage of the 2009 edition, turning this day of transition into one of confirmation. The Volkswagens drove at their favored pace and dominated all the more so since this type of special suited their aggressiveness. Depping finished second, 4.02 behind and Mark Miller third, 4.12 behind. In addition to this 1-2-3, the German constructor also managed to put a fourth vehicle in fifth place, even if Giniel De Villiers lost 10 minutes in the internal battle with his Spanish team-mate. This almost perfect finish was only disrupted by the tenacity of Nani Roma in his Mitsubishi Lancer, now the only representative of the Japanese constructor, who slotted into fourth position playing his role to the utmost as thorn in the side of Volkswagen, preventing complete domination.

As a result, the top part of the general standings underwent hardly any alteration. Sainz has picked up several extra minutes, distancing Roma, still in fourth, a slight bit more, improving a 29.16 lead to 33.31. This difference still does not mean that all bets are off, even if, unless a major surprise occurs, it is Roma alone against the VW. The race is still livened up by the tenacious Robby Gordon and his Hummer. 8th today, the North American is fifth in the general standings, but 1 hour and 32 minutes behind the leader.

In the T2 category, the most outstanding achievement of the day was made by the Japanese driver Jun Mitsuhashi who finished in the 15th position of stage 8, 39' behind Carlos Sainz. In the general standings, the leader of the "Production" category, Nicolas Gibon finished 21st today and increased his lead over Xavier Foj, his closed rival, with 1h12.

The same drivers animated the truck race today. The Dutchman Gerard de Rooy was the fastest with a 1'42'' lead aver Chagin. Kabirov finished 5th at 7'34''. The Czech driver Ales Loprais finished third of the stage and Brazil's Andre de Azevedo fourth. Firdaus Kabirov still leads the race before his fellow citizen Chagin with 3'46'' while De Rooy is at 17'46''. However, the most important piece of news today is that Hans Stacey did not start stage 8 this morning.

-credit: aso

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Mark Miller , Carlos Sainz , Cyril Despres , Gerard de Rooy , Nani Roma , Marc Coma , Jun Mitsuhashi , David Fretigne , Andre de Azevedo , Firdaus Kabirov , Pal Anders Ullevalseter , Ales Loprais , Hans Stacey , Jonah Street , Francisco Lopez , Nicolas Gibon , Josef Machacek