Nasser Al-Attiyah won his first stage of the Dakar Rally as overall leader Nani Roma lost time to nearest rival Stephane Peterhansel on stage eight.
Al-Attiyah, winner of the 2011 endurance event, completed the relatively straightforward 302km run from Salta to Calama – which involved crossing from Argentina into Chile – 1m12s faster than a chasing pack led by 11-time winner Peterhansel. Roma, meanwhile, finished more than eight minutes down the road after suffering two punctures on the stage. His lead over Peterhansel was therefore slashed to just over 23 minutes.
Carlos Sainz finished the day in third, but like Al-Attiyah remains more than one hour adrift of Roma following the duo’s one-hour penalties on stage five.
Giniel de Villiers, third overall, was one of the few front-runners to lose time to Roma, coming in two seconds behind the X-Raid driver. He now sits just 3m30s ahead of Orlando Terranova, who clocked the fourth-fastest time on today’s stage.
While the top order remained stable, there was movement lower down as Krzysztof Holowczyc jumped Marek Dabrowski for seventh. Federico Villagra started the day ninth overall and as top rookie, but lost two hours in the first checkpoint alone and tumbled out of the top 10 as a result.
The rally continues on Tuesday with competitors crossing the Atacama dunes before a severe downhill finish into Iquique.
Leading stage eight times: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Nasser Al-Attiyah X-raid Mini 2h32m57s 2. Stephane Peterhansel X-raid Mini +1m12s 3. Carlos Sainz SMG Buggy +2m36s 4. Orlando Terranova X-raid Mini +6m40s 5. Krzysztof Holowczyc X-raid Mini +7m49s 6. Nani Roma X-raid Mini +9m19s 7. Giniel de Villiers Imperial Toyota +9m21s 8. Vladimir Vasilyev X-raid Mini +11m59s 9. Bernhard Ten Brinke Ford HRX +13m07s 10. Christian Lavieille H8 Haval +16m56s
Leading overall positions after stage eight: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Nani Roma X-raid Mini 29h46m08s 2. Stephane Peterhansel X-raid Mini +23m46s 3. Giniel de Villiers Imperial Toyota +48m25s 4. Orlando Terranova X-raid Mini +51m55s 5. Nasser Al-Attiyah X-raid Mini +1h09m05s 6. Carlos Sainz SMG Buggy +1h43m59s 7. Krzysztof Holowczyc X-raid Mini +2h29m22s 8. Marek Dabrowski Orlen Toyota +2h47m08s 9. Christian Lavieille H8 Haval +3h14m43s 10. Adam Malysz Orlen Toyota +3h27m35s