Stage 8 of the 2017 Dakar Rally continued to the marathon stage of the iconic race, where only racers can work on their machines, without the help of their mechanics.
Thus, Stage 8 tests the durability of one’s machinery, as well as one’s ability to ride conservatively -it is worth mentioning then that there are only 110 remaining motorcycle competitors remaining in The Dakar.
Don’t tell that to Honda’s Joan Barreda though, who once again blitzed the stage leaderboard. The Spaniard is surely unable to overcome his one-hour time penalty, but one has to wonder where Honda would be without it, as Bam Bam has impressed this edition of the Dakar Rally.
Stage 8 was originally planned to be 492km of two timed special stages, but flooding saw the course shortened by 72 km. With the day starting in Bolivia, the riders finished Stage 8 in Argentina, the final country of this Dakar Rally.
Despite Barreda’s result, KTM’s Sam Sunderland retains his overall lead, after finishing the day in third – just under four minutes back from Barreda. Matthias Walkner managed to squeeze his KTM between Barreda and Sunderland though, which moves him into fourth overall.
Wednesday’s Stage 9 was set to be a long day, with two timed specials totaling 406km. There have been some question marks though, as many of the team’s support crews have been stuck en route to the bivouac – roughly 200km away – because of landslides.
With the traveling circus quite spread out, there is some talk of safety concerns. As such, Stage 9 has been cancelled by the ASO.
This means that there are only really two more stages where the leaderboard can be affected, which is not a lot for the five riders who remain in reasonable contention. As such, expect to see some hard racing on Thursday and Friday.