Today’s stage for the 2014 Dakar Rally, a 486 km sprint from Salta, Argentina to Calama, Chile, gave riders quite a view as they glided across parts of the largest salt flat in the world, and up the Andes Mountains as they enter the Chilean section of the rally.
After taking third on yesterday’s stage, Cyril Despres of France took today’s stage win putting up a 5:23:20 on his Yamaha YZ450F Rally, with Joan Barreda of Spain coming in second at 2:09 behind him. This pushes Despres up one position into 9th place overall.
“The idea isn’t really to go looking for stage victories but to try and get back to the front of the rally,” Despres said. “Today, by making up the difference on the tracks between myself and the first riders, I won the special and that’s always a pleasure.”
Barreda’s second place stage finish today has allowed him to maintain his second place overall position, while nipping at the heels of rally leader Marc Coma. “I’m happy because today I opened the way all day without making the slightest mistake, which is the first time for me so I’m really glad” said Barreda.
Although Marc Coma of KTM Redbull took third on today’s stage, falling 2:15 behind Despres, he still maintains a a 38:38 advantage over Barreda overall. “This marathon stage was complicated, especially due to the altitude,” said Coma. “Today, it was very long, so I’m happy about how the stage went.”
Stay tuned because tomorrow is sure to be full of ups and downs, as the riders cope with the lack of oxygen at higher altitudes, and battle a 30% gradient decrease over the last three kilometers on the descent into Iquique, Chile.
Top 10 from Stage 8: Salta/Uyuni—Calama
2014 Dakar Rally Overall Standings after Stage 8:
Source: Dakar; Photo: Yamaha Racing