The big news of the day had to be the big mud hole that Despres, Gonclaves and Ullelvalseter got caught up in. Gonclaves volunteered to help Despres pull his bike out. Once out, Despres took off and left Gonclaves still sitting in the mud. Race control decided to return the lost time to all riders at the end of the day, but the actions of Despres certainly did not show the best of sportsmanship. Here are the team reports:
Laia & Marc
Speedbrain Husky –Full throttle – but not without problems
Stage eight of the Dakar 2012 saw mixed results for the Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain. Joan Barreda was fighting for another podium finish before ending the day in fourth. Paulo Goncalves meanwhile had a difficult stage. Lying fourth overall in the morning, the Portuguese lost one place. He was finally content to complete today´s race at all.
The stage was fast and dangerous, often full throttle and sometimes really tricky. Former race leader Cyril Despres and Goncalves became victims of a mudhole that was not marked in the roadbook. Both got stuck.
Goncalves generously helped Despres out of the mess, and the Frenchman promptly sped away. Goncalves was then assisted by the race director.
The incident costed a lot of time, which was handed back to Goncalves afterwards. But more bad luck occurred, when he hit a stone one kilometre from the finish line. Goncalves had to push his bike to the finish with a damaged drivetrain. Quite lucky under the circumstances, he “only” lost 24 minutes on Marc Coma, who won the stage. Goncalves dropped back to fifth overall. But on a day when it was important to finish, he did just that.
Joan Barreda avoided the mudhole and was going for a top three result. He just missed out, as Ruben Faria and Helder Rodrigues got the better end. Barreda lost valuable time and a precious podium riding in the dust of Stefan Svitko and Juan Pedrero. Good: the Spaniard rode smart and didn´t take too many risks.
Zé Hélio also suffered at the mudhole and lost almost one hour. Discussions are going on whether to credit him lost time. Jose Manuel Pellicer keeps improving. He´s sitting right behind his teammates in 25th.
Tuesday brings the longest special of the rally. Canyons, loose sand and 556 kilometres of special test await the riders. The stage ends with a georgeous descent to the Pacific Ocean at Iquique.
KTM –Dakar 2012 race officials have adjusted times for riders trapped in mud on Stage 8, one of which was KTM factory rider Cyril Despres. According to the adjusted times, KTM’s Marc Coma still wins the stage and leads the rally but he is now just one minute 26 seconds ahead of Despres in the overall standings.
The two KTM riders have so far dominated the 2012 edition of the rally but the stage saw Despres and other riders bogged down in mud that had not been marked on the road book that guides riders. Cyril Despres, overall leader at the half way mark of the rally had to sacrifice around 12 minutes in his efforts to extract himself from the hazard, while teammate Marc Coma was not as badly affected. It was Coma’s twentieth Dakar Stage victory in his career and the fourth in the 2012 edition. Both he and Despres are vying for their fourth Dakar title.
Speaking from the bivouac after the stage, Alex Doringer, Team Manager for the KTM Factory Team said that while KTM welcomed the race officials’ decision to compensate the riders and reinstate times, the company felt that Coma should have also had some time credited because he was also affected, if to a lesser degree than his teammate. “We welcome the fact that Cyril’s times have been reinstated, but we feel that if this decision was based on sporting fairness, then Marc’s time should also have been adjusted,” Doringer said.
The mud had occurred in between the time that the official inspection of the stage had taken place and the actual start of the stage and this was the reason it was not marked on the road book.
The eighth stage, the first after the one rest day at Copiapo in Chile included the longest timed special in the 2012 edition, taking riders 477 km. It was set between two liaison stretches that took them to 3,000 meters above sea level. Riders were on their bikes for a massive 722 km by the time they got to the finish at Antofagasta on the Chilean coast.
In the day’s standings KTM factory rider Rubin Faria was second to Coma and after the time adjustment, Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues moved into third place. Cyril Despres ranked ninth but he and Coma still dominate the overall standings. Rodrigues is third overall but he trails the two KTM riders by some 49 minutes.
Coma said at the end of the ride that he had been lucky to avoid the mud that reversed the fortunes of his teammate. “It was a very long special,” he said. “I was lucky not to lose too much time in the mud and then I saw I could open a gap, so I attacked really hard. This is my 20th special victory. That’s a nice figure but it’s not winning the special that count, it’s winning the race. And I know there is still a long week of racing ahead.” Coma had put himself in the lead at the day’s first Way Point and gradually built on it throughout the day.
39th Chris Birch –“Well that was 500k’s of pure shi*t, not one good bit!! It was just flat out, like FLAT OUT, dusty as hell with rocks everywhere!! But I made it back in one piece, doing nothing stupid, which seems to be working for me at the moment!! Still really enjoying it. Am I tired? Nope, I’m averaging 7 hours sleep a night [I pointed out that was more than me – Mon]. Those top guys are SOOOOO fast, geeze… I’m at my comfortable limit, going as fast as I can without doing anything risky as I really don’t need to!!”
50th Laia Sanz- Very bad news today, my co rider Marc Guasch has fallen and will not be able to continue the race. I feel terrible for him. He was doing a very good job and we were getting on very well together. Now there is nothing to do but go forward and try to reach Lima. It will be difficult to sleep tonight.
57th Ned Suesse– Ned says that today was a little less physical, mostly just open fast two track roads. It was very dusty at times, he would ride as much as 100 km just sucking dust. He hit the same mud patch that Despres did and went over the bars in his first real crash of the Dakar. Overall, sort of an uneventful day, just lots of fast open riding without too much variety.