With one hour and 10 minutes to make up on Sam Sunderland in the general standings, Joan Barreda went on the attack claiming the stage win into Salta.
- Barreda took his 15th Dakar stage win
- KTM’s Walkner and Sunderland were 2-3
- Sherco’s Pedrero rode well for fifth.
- Sunderland comfortably maintains the overall lead
- Stage 9 has been cancelled
- It’s the 2nd stage of 2017 to get the chop
Dakar left the high plains and headed towards Argentina along a route initially comprising off-piste and crossing of fords combined with negotiating dunes. However, the competitors were once again victims of the weather and the rain of the previous days caused rivers to swell and flood, forcing the organisers to change the route with a neutralised section at the end of the Bolivian part of the special.
With nothing to lose in the general standings, Barreda is on the attack. This is a state of mind that he especially likes and one that allowed him to pick up his second special stage victory in 2017 with a considerable lead over the official KTM bikes ridden by Matthias Walkner and Sam Sunderland, who again increased his lead in the general standings.
“The stage up to the first checkpoint was a bit about tactics because that was to decide the starting order for Stage 9, so to be fourth at that point was okay,” told Walkner. “Then I tried to make up some time over the last 250 km and it was good enough for second place.
“It was very cold and it rained and there was a lot of fog in the early morning. We could only see about 10-15 meters. There was also a lot of flooding and in some places deep mud.”
Sunderland leads Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla by almost 21 minutes with Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren third.
Barreda’s team-mate Michael Metge had another enjoyable romp behind the bars, posting fourth spot amid the chaos.
Ricky Brabec had it tough today, having to open the track after yesterday’s win. The American was overtaken by Paulo Gonçalves and followed his team-mates trail to conclude the special without any serious loss of time.
Attacking the second part of the marathon stage, Yamaha’s Xavier de Soultrait was the highest placed Yamaha rider. Involved in some great battles, the Frenchman wrapped up the stage in ninth to retain his impressive sixth place in the provisional overall standings.
Walter Nosiglia is enjoying himself on his first Dakar. The Bolivian rookie continues to make progress behind the handlebars of his non-official Honda, finishing the day's stage in a fine fourteenth place, only 15 minutes behind Joan Barreda, who stood out from the pack. It is a performance that is promising for the end of the second week.
Toomas Triisa still maintains the Malle Moto lead over Lyndon Poskitt and Julian Kozac.
With 110 bikes starting Stage 8, 108 finished.
Stage 9 has been cancelled due to adverse weather conditions:
While the leading group of riders competed the stage, many riders, support teams and vehicles were stranded and eventually Dakar vehicles, competitors, assistance and logistics were diverted over a much longer route and some were not due to reach Salta in time for the start of Stage 9.
The plan is now to regroup the Dakar caravan in time to start the nineth stage on Thursday from Chilecito to San Juan.
Photos: DPPI/E.Vargiolu, Marcelo Maragni/Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool