Adverse weather conditions on the Altiplano and in other areas of Bolivia again forced rally officials to modify the route for stage eight – the second half of the Marathon stage. Rising water levels in a river bed due to be crossed by competitors forced officials to stop the first section of the stage at PC1, after 171km.
Crews then headed to the second half via a neutralisation section of 176km that also included the crossing of the frontier between Bolivia and Argentina at Piscuno. The second part of the competitive section started on the Argentinean side of the border, was unchanged and ran for around 248km and preceded a liaison of around 350km to the overnight halt in the city of Salta. The first section reached heights of in excess of 4,300 metres before the border and dropped to between 3,400 metres near the stage finish.
Bulacia revelled in the last competitive section of this year’s Dakar in his native Bolivia and reached the end of the first part in 19th position. That was sufficient for the Ford Ranger driver to move up to 21st overall. He reached the finish in a time of 4hr 50min 39sec and that was the 19th quickest time of the day to move him into 20th overall at the expense of the Argentinean driver Alejandro Yacopini in the standings.
Bulacia’s latest generation South Racing Ford Ranger was prepared by Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) with collaboration from South Racing. Bulacia has additional backing from YPFB, Vialco, Hard Rock Santa Cruz, BOA and Ende for his second Dakar with South Racing.
Tomorrow (Wednesday), the ninth special stage of the Dakar heads from Salta to the punishing heat of Chilecito. It’s a massive day in terms of liaison distances, with a special stage of 406km sandwiched between liaisons totalling 571km on the longest day of the entire event. What has been termed the ‘Super Belén’ stage by rally officials is reported to feature daunting navigation and many tricky off-road sections.