South African Gazoo Racing Toyota Hilux star, Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah and Belgian co-driver Matthieu Baumel stormed to Attiyah’s 40th-ever and the duo’s fifth Dakar car day win of 2021.
They beat Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz and Stephane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger’s Mini buggies on Monday’s eighth stage as Attiyah cut Peterhansel’s overall lead from eight to 5 minutes. Ignacio Cornejo Florimo took the motorcycle race over Toby Price as that pair took the overall lead too.
South African car crews enjoyed a positive day – Shameer Variyawa and Dennis Murphy came home a fine seventh, ahead of Gazoo Toyota Hilux teammates Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro in 15th. They lost time twice through the day. And Brian Baragwanath and Taye Perry were scything through the field after working late to repair their stricken Century CR6 Corvette overnight and looking good for a possible top ten finish Monday.
Of the other car frontrunners, Sheikh Al Qassimi came home fourth in his Peugeot from teammate Cyril Despres and Kuba Przygonski’s Hilux. Variyawa was next home from the ever-consistent Vladimir Vasilyev’s Mini 4×4, de Villiers and Martin Prokop’s Ford in tenth. Overall, Peterhansel leads Attiyah and Sainz 38 minutes off the pace. Przygonski is another hour behind, ahead of Nani Roma’s Hunter, Vasilyev, Qassimi and Prokop, with de Villiers ninth.
It was Chilean Honda rider Ignacio Florimo’s first bike stage win of the year, adding to his two previous day wins in 2020 in a 1 minute 5 second victory over double former winner, Aussie Price’s KTM. Californian Ricky Brabec was third on another Honda, ahead of Sam Sunderland’s KTM, Kevin Benavides and Joan Barreda Bort’s Hondas and KTM duo Daniel Sanders and Mathias Walkner. Flormino moved into a 1 minute 6 second overall lead over Price too.
Botswana’s Ross Branch came home 11th on his Yamaha, while gentleman compatriot James Alexander was still going strong. Dakar is however taking its toll on the two-wheelers – Xavier de Soultrait was airlifted after he crashed out and Franco Caimi retired after an engine failure. Sunderland now sits third overall, five minutes off the lead, with Benavides, Barreda, Brabec, Howes and Sanders now all over ten minutes adrift. Branch meanwhile picked up a couple of places up to 13th.
Still racing as we wrote, Romain Dutu led the quads from overall leaders Alexandre Giroud, Manuel Andujar and Giovanni Enrico. Reinaldo Varela led Sergei Kariakin and overall leader overnight. Francisco Lopez Contardo’s Can Ams in the Light Cars. And in the Trucks, overall leader Dimitry Sotnikov led Airat Mardeev and Andrey Karginov as the Kamaz team continues to steamroll the behemoth class.
Dakar continues onto Day 9 on Tuesday with a 465 km jaunt around Neom as the race continues on to the finish in Jeddah on Friday.