G-ENERGY TEAM: Stage eight – sands spring surprises
Special stage: 477 km | Total stage distance 716 km | Liaison: 239 km
Weather conditions: day +19С, night +2
The DAKAR eighth stage results in each of the standings have been largely unexpected today. If there were no sensations at Sunday stage from the contest point of view, today the situation has changed.
After the news of the tragic fall of one of the participants, the organizers canceled the eighth stage for motor- and quadricycle riders – they stayed in Wadi Al Dawasir, where the bivouac and the starting and finishing points of the “circle” stage are located. Thus, only Truck, Car and SSV standings participants were overcoming the 477-kilometer special stage.
Today, the crews have headed south and found mountain terrain, canyons and sands. One of the segments of today’s special stage has become a real “engine race” due to the abundance of straights without complex orientation. But there were dunes, where the racers had to show completely different knowledge and skills –“read the sand”, find the right entry to the dune crest.
The “dark horses” – Mathieu Serradori and Mitchell Guthrie won the eighth special stage in the Car and SSV standings respectively. This is the second DAKAR driving a car for the Frenchman – last year he retired at the fourth stage. The American is a race debutant, and he has already managed to take the wild card advantage – yesterday he could not finish the day, so today he has continued the rally in the Dakar Experience category, and his results are not taken into account in the general classification.
There was also a number of surprises in the Truck standings. For the first time since the DAKAR start, the crew performing neither in KAMAZ nor in MAZ were in the top three at the special stage finish. It was Ales Loprais, driving a truck of his own design called Praha.
During the first half of the rally marathon, various minor technical troubles pursued the Czech driver – this is the first race for his “home-made” truck and it is practically impossible to avoid “childhood diseases” in such a situation. However, today Loprais and his Praha have been finally able to show – this car can fight with the DAKAR leaders.
Andrey Karginov from KAMAZ-master team won the eighth special stage again. Anton Shibalov followed him – he lost six minutes to the winner. Ales Loprais rushed to the finish line nine minutes behind Karginov.
The “Blue Armada” representatives set the fourth and fifth time – Dmitry Sotnikov was ahead of Eduard Nikolaev, who is continuing the race after his retirement in the Dakar Experience category outside the main standings.
At the seventh stage, Nikolaev’s result was calculated incorrectly – he had a 20-hour penalty, but in fact he was fourth at the finish. But later, the organizers made corrections and justice has been met that was reflected in the last stage results change.
Sergey VYAZOVICH, the MAZ-SPORTauto team driver, performing with the Gazpromneft – Lubricants support, finished with the sixth result. The Belarusian driver is 18.5
Another two MAZ-SPORTauto team trucks rushed to the finish line with tenth and fourteenth results – Alexey VISHNEVSKY was ahead of Alexander VASILEVSKY.
The top three positions remain unchanged after the eighth special stage. The leadership is held by Andrey Karginov, Anton Shibalov is 27 minutes behind him, and Sergey VYAZOVICH is 1 hour and 5 minutes behind the leader.
According to eight racing days results, Alexey VISHNEVSKIY takes the eighth position in the Truck standings, and Alexander VASILEVSKIY is the eleventh.
The Dutchman Martin van den Brink became the DAKAR eighth day loser in the Truck classification. According to reports from the special stage, his Renault Sherpa was stuck in the sand and has been standing for more than three hours.
WHAT PARTICIPANTS WILL FIND TOMORROW
The ninth stage will go along the route from Wadi Al Dawasir to Haradh. More recently, the DAKAR bivouac has been located in the multi-million Riyadh. Tomorrow, the participants will finish in a small town, where a little more than a hundred thousand people live. But this settlement is one of the oil-producing capitals of the world, because the town stands on the main oil and gas field of Saudi Arabia – Ghawar. This is one of the largest oil and gas fields in the world. There are about 12 billion tons of oil and more than one billion cubic meters of gas at a depth of about two to three kilometers. But it is underground, and what is on the surface, where the DAKAR participants will go?
The ninth stage will lead racers to the Rub’ al Khali desert – one of the largest deserts in the world; one of the names of this area is the “empty quarter”. The sands of this desert lie on top of gravel or gypsum, and the dunes height can reach 250 meters. The route surface will again become more rigid and difficult – more than half the distance will be soil with stones. The rest is sands.
head of the MAZ-SPORTauto team, crew No. 503 driver, “There was finally a real special stage! Although there were many straights, where we went at maximum speed. But it was replaced by very soft dunes. Sometimes they were even difficult, but passable for our truck. Unfortunately, at the very beginning we didn’t expect they would be so soft – literally at the fiftieth kilometer there was such a sand hill after a right turn and there were a lot of vehicles stuck on the ascent. I didn’t mind that it could be so soft at the foot, I decided to turn around – not to go up, where everyone was standing. I thought that we would drive on the side, there was an opportunity. And during this reversal, we simply sank on a flat plateau and were unable to leave ourselves! Alexey Vishnevsky drove up, tugged with one car – they could not pull us out. Then Alexander Vasilevsky arrived and they could only pull us out with two trucks, because there was no way to pull somewhere down – either backward or forward. We were standing just on a flat surface, it was so soft. In this incident, we lost about 14 minutes. Then we went without problems, everything was at its pace. All the dunes were pretty easy. We were able to keep pace with the leaders and win back the lost time; in general it was a good working day. Finally, there was a real Dakar special stage”.
Alexey Vishnevsky, Master of Motorsports of the Republic of Belarus, crew No. 528
driver, “The day was difficult. There were many sands, they were very soft. There were also enough dunes and stones. Nothing special happened today. We helped Sergey Vyazovich – he got stuck a little, we pulled him out. I couldn’t do it alone, Vasilevsky drove up and we pulled him out together. And in the course of the movement, we didn’t get up a little twice, we had to back out. In general, we finished and are moving on. There were many participants who got stuck in the sands – IVECO, Renault – but we passed them”.
Alexander Vasilevsky, Candidate Master of Motorsports of the Republic of Belarus,
crew No. 508 driver, “We drove the eighth special stage so-so – we had some problems with the clutch, the gears didn’t start. We lost time doing it – about five to ten minutes. Therefore, we’ve set such a time today. But the belief in a good result is not yet lost. Today, many of those who had driven ahead of us have sat on the dunes, skidded. Therefore, I think that adventure is still waiting for us, everything is ahead, everything will be fine! Vishnevsky’s position is better than ours, so today we’ve gone as a convoy for our other crews. We let them go away so as not to drive in their dust and run into stones – when you go to fesh-fesh, the dust tail is about two kilometers. It’s dangerous to drive in it, so I let them go. Sergey left first, then –Vishnevsky and I was closing”.