- 12th January
- Liaison Sections: 24 km
- Racing Stage: 781 Km
- Total Distance: 805 Km
What happened Sunday 11th Jan:
Broadlink KTM’s Riaan van Niekerk, had his best day yet with a tenth overall, moving him to 12th in the overall rankings.
Paulo Gonzalves took the stage win, just 14 seconds ahead of Marc Coma, moving to within ten minutes of race leader Joan Barreda, who crashed on the stage breaking his handlebar. He rode for 120Km with one hand and conceded 6 minutes of his 12 minute lead over Red bull Factory KTM’s Marc Coma. Matthias Walkner had another great day finishing in third just a few seconds behind Coma, fourth was Quantanilla and then Toby Price.
Stage 8 would prove to be a disastrous one knocking most of the top bike contenders out of the rally, including Broadlink’s Riaan van Niekerk. Riaan’s race ended at Kilometer 365 after crossing the salt pan earlier in the morning.
After heavy rains overnight, the decision was made by the ASO to still have the mass start across the 135 Km salt pan early in the morning. The crossing would have disastrous consequences for many riders like Riaan, who at first experienced electrical difficulties, all the fuel injection lights lit up on his dashboard as the salt water found its way into the electrical system, at the first refuel most of the bikes couldn’t start on their own and had to be push started. Radiators clogged up and bikes overheated, running out of coolant and losing oil, riders tried by any means to unclog the radiators and in Riaan’s case salt got into the airbox and the results for him were terminal. Matthias Walkner also experienced electrical problems costing him several hours. Jordi Viladoms was next, destroying his engine and coming to a grinding halt. Botturi, Metge and many others did also not make it to the end of the stage. Race leader Joan Barreda also faced electrical issues and lost 3 hours on the leader today, he rode to the finish with Israel and Rodrigues.
Marc Coma has regained the lead and is now just 9 minutes 11 seconds ahead of Paulo Gonzalves. Toby Price has moved into fourth overall, he just made it to the bivouac with a bike desperately in need of repair. The bikes are being stripped down to bare frames and completely rebuilt for tomorrow morning’s start.
What’s happening today:
It’s time to leave the Atacama, the stage has been well used and is showing signs of wear and tear, the track is rough and will be harsh on competitors. Narrow passages will take their toll on the vehicles. Fifty odd Km’s of dunes will have to be navigated in the special.