The 2022 Dakar Rally Stage 8 has only a few days to go, and this stage was a long one. The stage took place from the end of the previous day at Al Dawadimi to Wadi Ad-Dawasir. Competitors had to traverse 435 km of open road section before getting to the start of the 395-km timed section.
Opening the road
Sebastien Loeb (BRX) opened the road today thanks to his stage win yesterday. But that cost the Frenchman as his Hunter T1+ buggy suffered a puncture after just 28 km. This lost him a few minutes and handed the first-on-road duties to overall race leader Nasser Al-Attiyah.
At the first time check at km marker 42, it was the Audi trio of Mattias Ekström Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz who topped the timesheets. The electric Audi RS-Q E-tron machines have suffered mechanical issues which have denied the German outfit a shot at overall victory in their debut Dakar.
When in doubt
The Audis put in a good show through the middle part of the stage, but Loeb was flat out. The man from Alsace seemed intent on making up for the lost time incurred with the early puncture. At the 170-km mark, he retook the stage lead from Peterhansel and clawed back over eight minutes on Al-Attiyah.
An all-Gallic duel developed at the front as Loeb and Peterhansel traded times at the top of the sheet. Not to be outdone, Carlos Sainz joined the battle and grabbed second place from Loeb at km 280. That placed Audi in first and second with Mattias Ekstrom just a matter of seconds behind.
A new name was added to the list of stage winners as Ekstrom claimed his maiden victory at the 2022 event. Mattias is the second Audi driver to win this year after Carlos Sainz. The two-time DTM champion finished 49 seconds ahead of his team-mate Stéphane Peterhansel. Sébastien Loeb finished third on the day’s podium, three seconds ahead of Carlos Sainz. The fastest South African today was Henk Lategan in fifth with Giniel de Villiers in ninth. More importantly, Loeb climbed back up the general rankings. He has closed the time gap to rally leader Al-Attiyah which sets up the final few days for a close-fought battle.
Onboard with Dakar Heroes
Here is a closer look at Stage 7 from the perspective of drivers and riders alike.
Video credit: Dakar Rally
General classification after 2022 Dakar Stage 8
- Nasser Al-Attiyah (Gazoo Hilux) 23 hr 52 min 22 sec
- Sébastien Loeb (BRX) +37 min 58 sec
- Yazeed Al Rajhi (Overdrive Hilux) +53 min 13 sec
- Jakub Przygonski (X-Raid Mini) +1 hr 28 min 06 sec
- Orlando Terranova (BRX) +1 hr 31 min 39 sec
- Vladimir Vasilyev (VRT) +1 hr 40 min 57 sec
- Giniel de Villiers (Toyota) +1 hr 46 min 05 sec
- Sebastian Halpern (X-Raid Mini) +2 hr 88 min 42 sec
- Martin Prokop (Orlen) +2 hr 09 min 05 sec
- Matthieu Serradori (SRT) +2 hr 31 min 13 sec