In the eighth stage, from Salta to Belén, Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and Mathieu Baumel (FRA) secured the eagerly anticipated stage win, thus beating Carlos Sainz in the Peugeot in the battle for the win. Today, the driver from Qatar made perfect use of his experiences in the sand to win the stage with his MINI ALL4 Racing. Behind him, the positions five to seventh also were clinched by MINI ALL4 Racing pairings: Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) /Michel Périn (FRA) finished fifth, followed by Nani Roma / Alex Haro (both ESP) and Orlando Terranova/Ronnie Graue (both ARG). Erik van Loon / Wouter Rosegaar (both NDL) completed today’s strong MINI ALL4 Racing performance by finishing 10th.
Al-Attiyah held the lead nearly throughout the 393-kilometre special stage. In the closing stages, however, the racing turned into a close battle as he dropped back behind Sainz, after the final way point. But the MINI ALL4 Racing driver kept on pushing, passed Sainz another time and won the special stage.
“It feels just great to have won and have been able to put pressure on the competitors,”
“Now I want to increase the pressure on the coming days. We could push and gain time right from the start. The last part– a true buggy section – wasn’t easy but we could win the stage nevertheless.”
Hirvonen kept on delivering in his now well-known consistent style to secure the fifth position he seems to have subscribed for. This consistency now has taken him to fourth place. “Unfortunately, there still weren’t real dunes, more Fech Fech and some off-road sections here and there. The first part of the stage went really well and we could close in on Peterhansel,” revealed the Finn. “But he refused to let us pass for 20 kilometres. The second part of the stage, however, suited the buggies far better and so, Stéphane could re-pass us. I still have to learn a lot but we once again completed the stage without being hampered by major problems.“
Roma encountered a difficult day but finished sixth, nevertheless.
“I made a good start into the first part and everything went perfectly,”
said the Catalan.
“Unfortunately, our central differential was locked at the very beginning of the second part. I tried to open it again but I failed. On the straights it was okay but optimum cornering was impossible. And then you begin to ask yourself what else could happen. In the closing stages, a slow punctured made our life even more difficult. In consideration of this situation I’m very happy with our time.”
Terranova also had to cope with problems.
“Finally a true Dakar stage,”
“We started into the stage from 17th position and from there, passing our competitors was anything but easy and we lost a lot of time in their dust. Later, we unfortunately were stopped by a puncture and some of the cars we had passed could overtake us again. We were able to work our way back up again but things could have gone better. At least we will start from a better position, tomorrow.”
Today’s great result was completed by Van Loon who finished 10th.
“This was not too bad but we lost a lot of time in the first part,”
said the Dutchman.
“The second part was a true Dakar stage – very challenging. I’m happy with our 10th place. And in consideration of the fact that we lost some time due to a damaged tire an even better result would have been possible.”
Tomorrow, the teams will stay in the bivouac at Belén while the competitors will have to prove their skills on a loop not far from the Argentinean city. During the course of the 285-kilometre special stage, the drivers will have to cope with a mix of dunes, sand, hard terrain and river beds. The total mileage covered tomorrow amounts to 396 kilometres.