2020 Dakar Rally speeds across the sands of Saudi Arabia on Stage 8
January 21, 2020 | 7:37 PM
by Times News Service
It was another pulsating day of action in the car race with the leading trio even closer together after Stage 8. - Supplied photo

Wadi Al-Dawasir: The 2020 Dakar Rally continued its relentless journey across Saudi Arabia on Stage 8 of the classic desert race. Leads came and went as competitors were forced to navigate a series of dunes amid spectacular scenery.It was another pulsating day of action in the car race with the leading trio even closer together after Stage 8. Race leader Carlos Sainz (ESP) saw his advantage cut to less than seven minutes on the 477-kilometre loop stage around the Wadi Al-Dawasir bivouac.

“We were all together on the stage, in a group of five with Nasser (Al-Attiyah), Stéphane (Peterhansel), Yazeed (Al Rajhi) and Bernhard (Ten Brinke).” – Carlos Sainz

Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) now has four days left to try and leapfrog Sainz while Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) is only 13 minutes off the lead. Stay tuned to this battle between three offroad heavyweights who already have 18 Dakar wins between them.

“At the beginning it was Carlos (Sainz) opening the road until he got stuck. Then Nasser (Al-Attiyah) got stuck in the dunes and after that I opened the road for more than 200 kilometres. Navigation was so tricky that we all reduced the speed.” – Stéphane Peterhansel

There was a shuffling of the pack overnight for Red Bull Off-Road Team USA. The mentor crew of Cyril Despres (FRA) and Mike Horn (SUI) made the selfless act of giving their engine to team-mate Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA) when mechanical problems saw the young American retire from Stage 7.

With Despres and Horn out of the race, Guthrie Jr. repaid the faith shown in him by winning today’s side-by-side stage. It’s Guthrie Jr.’s second stage win of his debut Dakar and the fourth achieved by the OT3 by Overdrive. Guthrie Jr.’s team-mate, Blade Hildebrand (USA), also completed the stage as the Red Bull Off-Road Team USA duo continue in the Dakar Experience class.

“It was a really good day and to have it off the back of yesterday where we had a mechanical feels great. Thankfully, last night Cyril gave me his motor out of his car so I was able to continue. That was an amazing gesture.” – Mitch Guthrie Jr.

In the overall rankings of the SxS race, Chaleco Lopez (CHI) was able to close in on race leader Casey Currie (USA) on Stage 8. Lopez now has four stages to make up the 15 minutes between himself and Currie.

Truck race leader Andrey Karginov (RUS) was able to increase his gap at the top of general classification on Stage 8. 2014 Dakar winner Karginov now leads Kamaz team-mate Anton Shibalov (RUS) by 27 minutes. It’s then over half an hour back to third place SiarheiViazovich (BLR).

“We want to become better competitors everyday so we're enjoying testing ourselves on new terrain.” – Andrey Karginov

The death of Paulo Gonçalves (POR) during yesterday’s Stage 7 between Riyadh and Wadi Al-Dawasir left the entire Dakar, especially the bikers, in shock. Gonçalves, a beloved figure of the rally, was immensely respected in the bivouac. After meeting the riders and making a decision together with the entire motorbike family, the organisers decided to cancel Stage 8 for the motorbikes and quads category.

On Stage 9 all five Dakar categories will head east across Saudi Arabia to Haradh. A monster distance of 891 kilometres must be travelled, including a 415-kilometre special stage.The 2020 Dakar finished on Friday, January 17 in Al-Qiddiya.

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