The second week of racing at the 2024 Dakar Rally is well under way. Read more about the opening week of the race at this link. 2024 Dakar stage 8 was a two-part affair held over 458 km from Al Duwadimi to Hail. Racers first competed over 165 km. This was followed by a neutralisation zone. Thereafter they all went flat out again over the last 119 km.
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Defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah (Prodrive Hunter) suffered a suspension failure just before the rest day. The subsequent long delay has effectively removed him from overall contention. However, the Qatari driver was keen to support his teammate Seb Loeb over the remaining days.
Click here to check out some beautiful imagery captured during the first week of the 2024 race.
But even this did not seem to be on the cards as Al-Attiyah’s car stopped just 62 km into the stage. Reports suggested that his car was suffering with engine troubles. However, Loeb was not perturbed.
The Frenchman raced through the early part of the stage, gaining large chunks of time over his nearest rival, Carlos Sainz (Audi) in the overall standings. Loeb managed to gain over three minutes on Sainz at the point they started the neutralisation section.
A trio of Toyotas led by Guerlain Chicherit, Seth Quintero and Lucas Moraes were keeping the European teams company at the top of the timesheets. Capetonian Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Gazoo Racing) was also having another steady day as the quickest SA driver.
Loeb was the man on a charge all day. However, he lost about six minutes late in the stage. It seems as though he missed a checkpoint and had to turn around to avoid a time penalty. This unexpected detour cost him dearly as all the hard work he’d put in early in the stage was undone.
While the race leaders were managing their overall leader, the Audis of Mattias Ekstrom and Stephane Peterhansel, both effectively out of the reckoning, set the timesheets alight with blistering times. From a late start the two men stormed through to take an Audi 1-2 on today’s stage. Chicherit was third ahead of Sainz and Quintero.
Loeb’s navigational error means that he has lost some time to the overall race leader Sainz. The Spaniard must feel that Audi’s first Dakar Rally win (and last chance as they team won’t return in 2025) is within his grasp. All he needs to do is keep pace with Loeb over the remaining stages.
Moraes is third the leader of a trio of Toyotas that includes himself, De Mevius and De Villiers. Another SA driver, Guy Botterill is having an excellent maiden Dakar and currently lies in 9th overall.
Reliability is always an issue in a race this long. This will surely be on the minds of the leaders, as well as those in pursuit. It’d be interesting to see which of the brands makes it to the end of the race without further mechanical issue. There is sure to be another twist in the Dakar saga this year.
Overall Standings after 2024 Dakar Stage 8
- Carlos Sainz (Audi) 33 hr 29 min 10 sec
- Sebastien Loeb (BRX) +24 min 47 sec
- Lucas Moraes (Toyota Gazoo Racing) +1 hr 05 min 13 sec
- Guillaume de Mevius (Overdrive Toyota) +1 hr 34 min 18 sec
- Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Gazoo Racing) +1 hr 45 min 12 sec
- Guerlain Chicherit (Overdrive Toyota) +1 hr 56 min 37 sec
- Martin Prokop (Orlen) +2 hr 01 min 23 sec
- Mathieu Serradori (CRT) +2 hr 03 min 15 sec
- Guy Botterill (Toyota Gazoo Racing) +2 hr 24 min 04 sec
- Benediktas Vanagas (Baltics Toyota) +2 hr 34 min 24 sec