Desert dunes dominate the landscape on Stage 8 of 2022 Dakar Rally

red bull desert wings header

Desert dunes dominate the landscape on Stage 8 of 2022 Dakar Rally

The 2022 Dakar Rally convoy were plunged into a 200km chain of desert dunes at the beginning of Stage 8. Navigation challenges came thick and fast on the stage, which ended up measuring a total 394km. Plus there was also 434km of liaison to be covered, making this the longest day of the world’s toughest rally.

The timed special stage between Al Dawadimi and Wadi Ad-Dawasir will long be remembered by Mattias Ekström (SWE) and co-driver Emil Bergkvist (SWE). Stage 8 saw the Swedish duo take their first ever win and gave the Audi RS Q e-tron the second stage win of its fledgling Dakar career.

“I enjoyed the ride and Emil did fantastic navigation the whole stage.” – Mattias Ekström

Audi Sport’s positive start to the second week continues with Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) and Carlos Sainz (ESP) joining Ekström among the best performers on today’s stage.

“It is a pleasure to drive this car and we are all working hard to improve the performance.” – Stéphane Peterhansel

Nine-time WRC winner Sébastien Loeb (FRA) had led the stage in his BRX Hunter at various points, but eventually had to settle for the day’s third fastest time. The result brings him seven minutes closer to car race leader Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT).

“We pushed really hard from the start until the end. We wanted to stay ahead and not have Nasser following.” – Sébastien Loeb

Al-Attiyah (QAT) maintains a healthy 39 minute lead over Loeb in second place. The Qatari’s Toyota had an issue he needed to stay on top of on Stage 8, a sign that anything can still happen at the Dakar.

“We only had front wheel drive for the last 350km of the stage. I was scared we would get more problems but then decided to push for the last 50km. In the end we lost only seven minutes from Seb.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah

Kuba Przygoński (POL) is up to fourth overall in the car race. The Polish off-roader has recorded five Top 10 finishes at the Dakar in a distinguished career spread over both the bike and car races. A podium finish still eludes him and the MINI JCW Buggy driver will be pushing to make that happen in the coming days.

Most competitors come to the Dakar with a simple ambition, to finish the rally. However, Seth Quintero (USA) of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team has devised his own mission. He wants to break the record of the most stage wins in a single edition of the rally – currently standing at 10. Today he won the T3 stage for the eighth time this year, and there’s still four stages left!

“Today went great. We really feel no pressure, so we’re just out there having a good time and today went well for us.” – Seth Quintero

 

Leading overall in the T3 class is Chaleco Lopez (CHL) who is on to do the side-by-side double after winning the T4 race last year. Meanwhile, Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP) saw her push for an overall podium finish hit a setback as mechanical problems cost her over two hours on today’s stage.

Back to record breakers, Team Kamaz Master completed yet another 1-2-3 result on Stage 8. That’s the sixth time since the start of this Dakar that the Russians have locked out the podium places. Race leader Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) won his third stage of the rally to extend his advantage over team-mates Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) in second and Anton Shibalov (RUS) in third.

Never doubt that the bikers at the Dakar are made of tough stuff, Sam Sunderland (GBR) providing the latest evidence. The GasGas Factory had lost his overall lead and slipped back to fourth overall following yesterday’s stage. The British biker’s reaction was to go hard on the throttle on Stage 8 and immediately reclaim first place in the general classification.

“I had a few crashes in the dunes when I was perhaps pushing a bit too much. It looks like the race is really close this year so that makes it exciting for people watching at home.” – Sam Sunderland

Matthias Walkner (AUT) remains second overall, the position he has held since the conclusion of Stage 4. The gap between Walkner and his former Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mate Sunderland stands at 3m45s. Walkner’s fellow KTM Factory riders Kevin Benavides (ARG) and Toby Price (AUS) are sixth and ninth overall respectively.

“Every single day is important at this rally, because everyday there is the chance to win or lose a lot of time. I gave it my all again today and the final result is not too bad.” – Matthas Walkner

At eighth overall Štefan Svitko (SVK) is the highest placed ‘privateer’ biker, while Camille Chapelière (FRA) ranks third amongst Rally2 competitors.

“I wanted to push even more today, but I had to stay focused on the navigation. I’ll be pushing these next days to see what can happen.” – Camille Chapelière

Tomorrow’s Stage 9 will be a 287km loop around the Wadi Ad-Dawasir bivouac featuring a mass of mountains and canyons. Navigation, already a key theme of this year’s Dakar, will feature heavily once again.

 

2022 Dakar Rally Standings after Stage 8

CAR RACE TOP 5

1. N. AL-ATTIYAH (QAT) TOYOTA 27:45:52

2. S. LOEB (FRA) BRX +37:58

3. Y. AL RAJHI (SAU) TOYOTA +53:13
4. K. PRZYGONSKI (POL) MINI +1:28:06

5. O. TERRANOVA (ARG) BRX +1:31:39

BIKE RACE TOP 5
1. S. SUNDERLAND (GBR) GAS GAS 27:38:42

2. M. WALKNER (AUT) KTM +03:45

3. A. VAN BEVEREN (FRA) YAMAHA +04:43
4. P. QUINTANILLA (CHL) HONDA +05:30
5. J. BARREDA (ESP) HONDA +14:38

TRUCK RACE TOP 5
1. D. SOTNIKOV (RUS) KAMAZ 30:02:36
2. E. NIKOLAEV (RUS) KAMAZ +11:25
3. A. SHIBALOV (RUS) KAMAZ +40:23
4. A. LOPRAIS (CZE) PRAGA +1:29:27
5. A. KARGINOV (RUS) KAMAZ +1:41:01

LIGHTWEIGHT PROTOTYPE (T3) TOP 5
1. F. LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) CAN-AM 32:51:39
2. S. ERIKSSON (SWE) CAN-AM +1:19:01
3. F. ALVAREZ (ESP) CAN-AM +2:55:30
4. S. NAVARRO (ESP) CAN-AM +4:50:24
5. P. LEDEDEV (RUS) CAN-AM +4:51:35

QUOTES

Mattias Ekström: “I was careful in the dunes, maybe a bit too slow. After that we felt more confident with the track. I enjoyed the ride and Emil did fantastic navigation the whole stage.”

Stéphane Peterhansel: “We broke the bonnet while jumping the dunes so it was necessary to stop and get that fixed. Overall our speed was good. It is a pleasure to drive this car and we are all working hard to improve the performance.”

Carlos Sainz: “It was a really good day for Audi with the victory of Mattias. Considering I had two slow punctures I think our time was good.”

Sébastien Loeb: “We pushed really hard from the start until the end. We wanted to stay ahead and not have Nasser following. We had one puncture and changed the wheel quickly. Then we lost our last spare wheel so I controlled things after that. I think we still did a good stage.”

Nasser Al-Attiyah: “We only had front wheel drive for the last 350km of the stage. I was scared we would get more problems but then decided to push for the last 50km. In the end we lost only seven minutes from Seb.”

Seth Quintero: “Today went great. We really feel no pressure, so we’re just out there having a good time and today went well for us. We knew that there was going to be a lot of sand and a lot of dunes and that’s where I feel the most comfortable, in the dunes.”

Chaleco Lopez: “I didn’t lose any time today, but the race is still long. It was not easy today: even if I didn’t have any problems, there were a lot of dunes and stones, so I’m happy to have finished.”

Sam Sunderland: “I gave my all throughout the entire stage and tried to recuperate some time. I had a few crashes in the dunes when I was perhaps pushing a bit too much. It looks like the race is really close this year so that makes it exciting for people watching at home.”

Matthas Walkner: “Every single day is important at this rally, because everyday there is the chance to win or lose a lot of time. I gave it my all again today and the final result is not too bad.”

Štefan Svitko: “Today was a very long stage that started with only sand. Then the second part was very fast. I’m happy to get another day finished and to be another day closer to the end.”

Camille Chapelière: “I wanted to push even more today, but I had to stay focused on the navigation. I’ll be pushing these next days to see what can happen.”

Kevin Benavides: “It was another really good day for me, I was pushing a lot. I’ve been working so hard to recover the time that was lost on the first stage. I stay motivated because everything is still possible, this is the Dakar.”

Toby Price: “Just a few small mistakes today, it’s so hard to have a totally clean stage. Now there’s another 260km of liaison before we get back to the bivouac. It’s been a long day and I’m looking forward to bed time.”

Mohammed Balooshi: “For me this was the toughest stage so far and I’m really happy that it’s over. The bike is better now than it was in the first week so I have to thank the guys who have helped me with that.”

Mohammed Jaffar: “I had the perfect stage today. On the previous stages I always had some problem like a penalty or a missed waypoint. Today I made zero mistakes so I guess I must be improving.”