Dakar. 11 January: Belén.
• Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena were the rally leaders as the crews left Salta, but it was to become an unfortunate day for the duo. They lost six minutes stuck in the sand at the start of the second half of the stage, and then rolled just around 10 kilometres from the finish. The crew were able to fix the car themselves and reach the stage finish with a time loss of 1h08m.
• Carlos Sainz was fastest on the stage at the penultimate waypoint, but ended up second at the end, despite having the handicap of opening the road.
• Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret picked up a puncture but then fought back strongly at the end of the stage. Having dropped six minutes with the problem, the number 302 crew finished third on the stage, 31 seconds behind stage winner Nasser Al-Attiyah, after 393 kilometres of competitive action. He reclaimed the lead of the overall classification with an advantage of 2m09s over Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz.
• Cyril Despres set the fourth-fastest time, putting in an excellent performance over varied terrain. This is his highest-ever stage classification on four wheels up to now.
Carlos Sainz (PEUGEOT 2008 DKR n°303), 2nd on the stage
“It was tricky to open the road because the second part of the stage presented us with the first real off-road action of the rally, with camel grass and plenty of navigation. Lucas did a great job and I’m pleased that we didn’t lose too much time today.”
Stéphane Peterhansel (PEUGEOT 2008 DKR n°302), 3rd on the stage
“It was a leg where plenty of stuff happened. We had a puncture and lost lots of time during the first part of the stage today. In the second part of the stage, there was the first proper off-road section, with some small dunes and what we call camel grass. We had good pace through there and clawed back more than five minutes. We ended up not too far off the leaders, but the main event on that stage was that Seb went off just in front of us. We were about 20 or 30 seconds behind him. In a very wide rio he hit a crevasse and rolled. This destabilises the team a bit as we had three cars in front. Now we are two and that situation is a bit less comfortable. I’m back in the lead, but in any case it’s impossible to manage this advantage.”
Cyril Despres (PEUGEOT 2008 DKR n°321), 4th on the stage
“This has been my best ever Dakar stage result in a car! And it’s the first time that I’ve been able to go really quickly in the 2008 DKR. There’s no shame in dropping four minutes to the leaders on a stage like this one. Everything went well for me. It was a difficult stage and it feels like the Dakar is starting again. I’m very pleased with David’s work today as it’s the first time that he’s been this quickly through wadis and through dunes.”
Sébastien Loeb (PEUGEOT 2008 DKR n°314), 42th on the stage
“In quite a wide and fast river, I arrived a little bit to the right, but there was a channel just there. I didn’t see it at all, and came towards it at high speed. We hit the step as we came back out and that sent us into a series of rolls. The radiator was broken but we managed to fix it and put some water back in. We also changed the two rear wheels, which were broken. And then when we were about to set off again, we had a broken shaft. So we got out and pulled everything apart again. Finally we were able to get going after losing more than an hour. Our plan was always to come here to get some experience. OK, the first week went better than we expected as we were in the lead. Now the situation is less good. For that to happen less than 10 kilometres from the finish is frustrating, but that’s life. Now we have to carry on.”
Provisional classification of stage 8 (Salta-Belén)
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA), Mini All 4 Racing, 4 h12min23s
2. Carlos Sainz (ESP)/Lucas Cruz (ESP), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +12s
3. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, + 31s
4. Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, + 4min40
5. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Michel Perin (FRA), Mini All 4 Racing, +6min42
32. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MC), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +1h08min09s
Provisional overall classification after stage 8
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, 26h01min44s
2. Carlos Sainz (ESP)/Lucas Cruz (ESP), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, + 2min09s
3. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA), Mini All 4 Racing, +14min43s
4. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Michel Perin (FRA), Mini All 4 Racing, +36min42s
5. Leeroy Poulter (ZAF)/Robert Howie (ZAF), Toyota Hilux, +49min32s
8. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MC), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +1h05min16s
14. Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +1h46min53s