With cars in sixth and eighth place in the season…
SS8 is one of not so many days in the Dakar where there are actually “two stages” even though they score it as one stage. There’s a big transit in the middle along a river for about 100k.
The transit to the stage goes through a national park. Local environmentalists are all up in arms about this, even though this is a non-racing section. The part through the designated area is only 11km. Yes, all permits had been arranged with the governments, but police still stop all the bikes prior to entering the park. Some phone calls were made, strongly worded I assume, and the bikes are eventually let through. The stage starts about 40 minutes late on the other side.
The Minis are surprisingly showing some speed today. The second half of the rally is supposed to be less road-oriented and more off-piste open country and dunes. Maybe the 4×4 machines are finally showing an advantage? Which is weird, because it was supposed to be the Pugs and the Gordini style vehicles that ruled the dunes.
Robby and Sheldon’s vehicles are doing something weird. Slow to first checkpoint, then stopped, then only one continuing.
What’s in the back of those trucks? Some radiators, spare tires, a bunch of rope and straps, and the the air intakes:
The truck air filter, it could trap small animals:
Sebastien Loeb flipped over 30 km from the finish line, full yard sale losing body panels. Basic structure of the cage seems fine from early helicopter video, it’s all in the right shape. It was out in open desert, so no trees or big rocks. Loeb said afterward “We broke a lot of things on the car. We had to change two wheels and change the transmission so, for sure, we lost a lot of time.”
By ‘transmission’, in their Frenchy way, they mean half shaft. This understates the Max Max nature of the repair… bypassing an ejected radiator with some spare hose, and car parts falling off as they drove away.
As incredible as it may seem, Alexander Smith has completed the first six thousand kilometres of the rally without making one single mistake, which is not bad at all for a debutant. “It’s the goal I set for myself,” explains the Husqvarna rider, son of American motorsport legend Malcolm Smith. “I want to get to the end of this Dakar without falling once”.
Now Peterhansel is in a heap of trouble. At the drivers meeting, they announced to the cars: “No gas stops.” Well, Peterhansel, currently leading decided to stop and get some fuel anyway at the fuel stop marked in the road book… FOR THE BIKES. The rules on this, as written, state the penatly is up to and including exclusion. However, as I read them, there’s some wiggle room for a good inquiry to reduce them. Depends on what other paperwork may have played a part, how rally-lawyerly they get… and how French.
Looks like today was the first day that we have racers still in the dunes as the sun goes down.
Sheldon Creed (car, Gordini) somehow made it back to the bivi. Clutch gone, how he even moved is unknown.
Photos by Dakar Facebook and Rally Maniacs