Mother Nature creates confusion on the Dakar

Guerlain Chicherit was fastest on the rain-affected stage

Guerlain Chicherit was fastest on the rain-affected stage

Torrential rain has caused havoc on the eighth stage of the Dakar Rally, with the vast majority of the cars unable to finish the 470km stage from Salta to Tucaman in Argentina.

The race was stopped at the second control point 88 km into the stage, as a dry riverbed swelled with water. At the time, Nasser Al-Attiyah was the fastest on the stage and had taken three minutes from overall leader Stéphane Peterhansel.

However, around 50 cars had gone past this point, inching towards the finish line with mixed success.

The Qatari driver got stuck and saw several of his rivals disappear into the distance. Guerlain Chicherit was both the first and the fastest driver across the finish line. But this could all account for nothing as race officials decide if the stage will count or if derived times will need to be applied as the vast majority of the field have been so badly affected.

Only five cars have registered finishing times, so the rest of the field were given the time of  Nani Roma (fifth place car) so most of  placings and time differences stayed the same as they were at the start of the day. This includes the Australians with Geoff Olhlom in 15th, Bruce Garland in 44th and Adrian Di Lallo was 45th.

On two wheels the riders left ahead of the cars, but still had to cope with the rain. They completed the stage, but it was some major navigational issues where a group of wayward riders lost almost half an hour, including yesterday’s winner Kurt Caselli and overall leader Olivier Pain who has slipped back to fifth.

No issues for Joan Barreda, who started in 21st place but finished the stage seven minutes ahead of American Johnny Campbell.

“I quickly caught up with the leaders, who were backtracking after a navigational mistake, and went flat out from then on,” said Barreda.

“I’m happy because I navigated quite well and I’m happy to add another stage win to my tally.”

David Casteu now leads overall with Cyril Despres up into second. The defending champion was saved by Pole Marek Dabrowski’s willingness to give him his KTM’s engine at the assistance-less bivouac in Cachi, enabling him to tackle today’s special with a born-again motorcycle. Nevertheless, his engine change will cost him a 15-minute penalty and push him down to sixth place overall ahead of the second week of racing.

Rod Foggotter is still the best placed Aussie moving up one place to be 16th, Ben Grabham is 21st, Simon Strange is 34th, Todd Smith is 48th, Simon Pavey is 67th and Matt Smith is 124th after having to take massive penalties in assisting his Husqvarna team-mates over the first week and encountering his own issues.

Thumbs up from Matt Fish after a tough few days

Thumbs up from Matt Fish after a tough few days

“After stopping and helping my team mate finish Stage 5 I started from the rear of the field on Stage 6,” said Fish.

“But my motor stopped 11km from the end of the first half of that stage. After five hours of pushing I finished the first half and changed motors and continued on to finish at 4.20am. Then I started the next stage 55 minutes later.

“It’s been a rough few days!”

In the quads Sarel Van Biljon was fastest, but Marcos Patronelli still has the overall lead, while the trucks are stopped in the stage because of the rain.

Thankfully tomorrow is the rest day.

Video highlights from Day 8



Position Crew Car Time
1 Stephane Peterhansel / Jean Paul Cottret Mini


2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Lucas Cruz Demon Jefferies Buggy


3 Giniel de Villiers / Dirk von Zitzewitz Toyota HiLux


4 Leonid Novistkiy / Konstantin Zhiltskov Mini


5 Guerlain Chicherit / Jean-Pierre Garcin SMG Buggy


6 Ronan Chabot / Gilles Pillot SMG Buggy


7 Juan (Nani) Roma / Michel Perin Mini


8 Orlando Terranova / Paulo Fiuza BMW


9 Bernard Errandonea / Arnaud Debron SMG Buggy


10 Carlos Sousa / Miguel Ramalho Great Wall


15 Geoff Olholm / Jonathan Auston Toyota HiLux


44 Bruce Garland / Harry Suzuki Isuzu D-Max


45 Adrian Di Lallo / Steve Riley Isuzu D-Max




Position Rider Bike Time
1 David Casteu Yamaha


2 Cyril Despres KTM


3 Ruben Faria KTM


4 Francisco Lopez KTM


5 Olivier Pain Yamaha


6 Ivan Jakes KTM


7 Jermias Israel Esquerre Honda


8 Jakub Przygonski KTM


9 Stefan Svitko KTM


10 Javier Pizzolito Honda


16 Rod Faggotter Yamaha


21 Ben Grabham KTM


33 Warren Strange Honda


48 Todd Smith Honda


67 Simon Pavey Husqvarna


124 Matt Fish Husqvarna




Position Rider Bike Time
1 Marcos Patronelli Yamaha


2 Ignacio Casale Yamaha


3 Sarel van Biljon E-ATV


4 Rafal Sonik Yamaha


5 Sebastian Palma Can-Am


13 Paul Smith Honda



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