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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

2015 Dakar Rally: Stage 8 Results

Career-best results for some and devastating
outcomes for others made Stage 8 of the 2015
Dakar Rally one of the most tumultuous days of
this year’s rally. The second-half of the first
marathon stage, in which any bike maintenance or
repairs must be completed by the riders, saw
KTM’s Pablo Quintanilla score his first stage win of
2015. The Chilean rider beat Yamaha’s Juan
Pedrero Garcia by 11 seconds at the finish. KTM’s
Stefan Svitko rounded out the top-three.
The day’s course saw riders traverse the Uyuni
salt flats, nearly 13,000 feet above sea level.
Conditions were cold, wet and treacherous. After
traveling 293 miles of special section, competitors
were faced with 170 miles of neutralized course
which brought them back to the dunes in Chile for
a 23-mile sprint to the finish.
To begin with, rainfall overnight left the course
water-logged and especially difficult so officials
delayed the start of the special section. The
conditions immediately claimed GasGas rider
Gerard Farres Guell, who suffered a tumble at high
speed within the opening miles on the salt flat. He
broke his bike in the fall and was evacuated by
medics to be treated for hypothermia. As the day
progressed, Guell was joined by three more
top-20 riders forced to withdraw from the event.
Yamaha’s Michael Metge ran into mechanical
issues that eventually ended his campaign, later
followed by teammate Alessandro Botturi. Red Bull
KTM’s Jordi Viladoms faced mechanical issues of
his own which he desperately tried to fix, but his
broken engine proved insurmountable and the
Spaniard retired from competition.
Things were no better for Team HRC’s Joan
Barreda, who lost all hope of the overall win this
year. The Honda ace managed to retain his
position atop the general classification after
suffering a crash the previous day which left him
with a broken handlebar, obliging him to finish the
final miles using only his right hand. Overnight,
Barreda swapped handlebars with Argentinean rider
Demian Guiral and got off to a strong start,
keeping within reach of the early stage leaders.
Disaster struck Barreda before arriving at the
neutralized portion, however, the Honda rider only
able to complete the journey across Bolivia thanks
to a tow from teammate, Jeremias Israel. This set-
back cost Barreda more than an hour and a half to
Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma. The two powered on
to the finish, with Barreda classified in 64th-place
followed by Israel in 65th, both riders ending the
day more than three hours behind the stage
winner. Barreda drops to 16th in the general
rankings, while Israel is down to 27th. In a team
statement afterward, Barreda expressed his
displeasure with officials for even allowing the
event to proceed, considering the conditions.
"In the end it’s been collateral damage, and a
disgrace what they’ve made us do today; to race
in a sea," said Barreda. "It was out of place. All the
work on all the projects that we’ve done has gone
down the pan. To make a decision like that just
wasn’t right. Today you couldn’t see a thing;
visibility was zero. We were floating around on top
of the water. They ordered us to start and this is
what happened; my Dakar is over."
Coma’s teammate, Matthias Walkner, had an
abysmal day as well after finishing third in Stage 7.
Problems on course set the Austrian back
significantly, costing him more than one hour, 40
minutes on Quintanilla, dropping him to 28th
overall. Team HRC’s Helder Rodrigues, who started
the day sixth overall, lost three hours on the stage
leaders prior to reaching the neutralized zone. He
completed Stage 8 in 66th position and now sits
19th overall.
As is often the case in Dakar, the misfortunes of
some proved beneficial to others. Coma now holds
the overall lead after finishing Stage 8 in ninth-
place.
“Conditions were very complicated, for me over the
limit,” explained Coma. “To ride over the salt and
the water was like a kind of cement on the bike
and there was a lot of stress to try to take care of
the engine of the bike and everything. To arrive
here today is like a victory. I am happy we are
leading now but we still have five days in front of
us. We have a long way to go and every day there
is something different. We just have to take it
kilometer by kilometer.”
Team HRC’s best hope of victory now lies in Paulo
Goncalves’ hands, the Honda rider moving to
second-overall after finishing Stage 8 in 15th-
place. Goncalves has a deficit of a little more than
nine minutes on Coma. Quintanilla enters Stage 9
in podium position, his performance en route to
Iquique moving him to third overall.
Red Bull KTM’s Toby Price maintained a consistent
pace to the end of the day to earn fourth in the
stage and move to fourth overall. Team HRC’s Laia
Sanz provided a much-needed reason to celebrate
with her best result of this year’s rally, completing
Stage 8 in fifth position. She now sits ninth in
combined time.
2015 Dakar Rally Stage 8 Results
1. Pablo Quintanilla, CHL (KTM) 2:56:19
2. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (Yamaha) 2:56:30
3. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 2:56:31
4. Toby Price, AUS (KTM) 2:57:00
5. Laia Sanz, ESP (Honda) 2:58:55
6. Xavier de Soultrait, FRA (Yamaha) 3:02:55
7. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 3:03:01
8. Hans Vogels, NLD (KTM) 3:03:53
9. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 3:03:56
10. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 3:04:03
2015 Dakar Rally Overall Rankings after Stage 8
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 28:51:12
2. Paulo Goncalves, PRT (Honda) 29:00:23
3. Pablo Quintanilla, CHL (KTM) 29:02:23
4. Toby Price, AUS (KTM) 29:07:08
5. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 29:17:42
6. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 29:25:46
7. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 29:49:20
8. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 30:02:00
9. Laia Sanz, ESP (Honda) 30:10:03
10. Ivan Jakes, SVK (KTM) 30:38:59

Culled from Moto USA.

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