Al-Attiyah claims 40th career Dakar win on Stage 8

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Al-Attiyah claims 40th career Dakar win on Stage 8

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Al-Attiyah claims 40th career Dakar win on Stage 8

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Ancient canyons, cliffs and brown-rock mountains made for an especially photogenic second half of Monday’s Dakar Stage 8, a 375km/233-mile southwesterly romp from yesterday’s finish line in Sakaka to the Red Sea coastal city of Neom.

After nearly three hours on course, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah headed home Carlos Sainz by just 52 seconds, with Sainz’ X-Raid MINI JCW teammate Stephane Peterhansel a further 2m11s back in third. By winning, Al-Attiyah kept the points pressure on Peterhansel, trailing the latter now in the general standings by just 4m50s.

Interestingly, in 2007, Nasser Al-Attiyah was perceived as risk-taker when he won his first special in Nema behind the wheel of an X-Raid Team BMW. Since then, there has not been a single Dakar where he has not tasted victory on at least one stage, a feat which no other driver has achieved over 14 consecutive editions in the history of the rally.

In collecting the 40th stage victory of his career, Al-Attiyah is now third on the roll of honor for stage wins, with Stephane Peterhansel (47) and Ari Vatanen (50) in his sights.

Another tough stage from beginning to end, the opening miles featured several sharp stony sections which marked the end of veteran Sebastien Loeb’s 2021 run: Puncturing just 26 miles in, Leob suffered another flat just 25 miles further along; when the assistance vehicle flatted a tire on its run to the rescue, the team declared a DNF…

Also slowed by punctures were bike racers Toby Price and Sam Sunderland. “Nacho” Cornejo had taken the lead in the general standings yesterday by just one second thanks to his runnerup finish in Sakaka. Quickly catching teammate Ricky Brabec shortly after the start, the Chilean wound up with the fastest overall time and increased his lead over Price to 1m05s.

“It was really tough for me today,” said Price. “I struggled with ‘focus’ a lot this morning with the road-book; I was a little bit tired from yesterday’s crash. It was good to make it to the finishing line. The chin’s alright, it’s just a little bit hard to eat. It’s a little bit swollen and I’ve got a bit of a headache, but it’s not too bad – there are no bones broken or anything; just some stitches. It’s all good.”

In the lightweight vehicle category, Austin Jones took advantage of Aron Domzala’s mechanical misfortune to take over the lead in the general standings by 9m22s over Seth Quintero and 19m42s over “Chaleco” Lopez, the Stage 4 winner.

The quad category battle has settled into a duel between Manuel Andujar and Alexandre Giroud, advantage the Argentinean by 19m43s over the Frenchman thanks to notching his fourth win (incuding the prologue) in this year’s event.

In the truck race, the Kamaz-Master 1-2-3 finish, led by Anton Shibalov, did not alter the top three in the general standings, also entirely blue, headed by Dmitry Sotnikov.

Among the more notable performances on the day, the Abu Dhabi Racing team is climbing up the standings thanks to sterling efforts by Cyril Despres/Mike Horn and Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi/Xavier Panseri.

Al-Qassimi, fifth on the opening stage, finished a charging fourth in today’s Stage 8. Despres, meanwhile, taking advantage of this Dakar to collect as much data possible for the development of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle, finished right behind. Having finished fifth on Sunday, the five-times Dakar winner (on a bike) went one better today, running fourth before being pipped in the last few miles by his teammate.

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