As the extreme bad weather continues in South America, the organizers again decided to cancel the next stage (stage 9). The region in northern Argentina was hit by the worse flooding in 40 years, causing massive landslides and bringing roads in the area to a standstill.
A slippery start to Stage eight saw the shootout between fellow Team Peugeot drivers Stéphane Perterhansel and Sébastien Loeb get underway once more. A sustained attack by Loeb over both parts of the timed special stage saw him emerge with the day’s quickest time. The 9-time WRC Champion’s third stage win of this Dakar propelled him into the overall race lead as he leapfrogged Perterhansel in the overall classification. Underlining the dominance of the Peugeot 3008 DKR was Cyril Despres who joined his team-mates on the Stage 8 podium. The sold run of Despres was rewarded with the third-best time (+5m35s), and he is now back up to third overall, 6:19 ahead of Nani Roma. Stage 8 result gave the Lion marque the top three slots in the overall rankings as the race returns to Argentina.
“The first part of today’s stage went well for us and our car ran like clockwork. The conditions were far from perfect and we came across stretches of standing water that were up to 600 meters long. Stéphane was a little faster than us during the early off-road section but we had the edge when the terrain switched to more conventional tracks. We did our best to open up a gap but we then punctured on a concealed rock in aford about 80 km from the end. We went on to win the stage, though, and we’re back in the overall lead.” Loeb commented. “We will be first on the road on Thursday when we hear that the navigation will be just as hard, if not harder. We are still in the fight, and that’s what counts, even though Stéphane isn’t far behind. He’s going well, so we will need to keep pushing without making any mistakes.”
The stage’s difficult conditions meant that there was not much change in positions with most of the MINI family competitors maintaining their overall position. Mikko Hirvonen once again secured a 4th place stage finish in the no.303 MINI John Cooper Works Rally car to remain in 5th place in the overall standings. Just two places behind them in the stage was the no.308 of Orlando Terranova. Terranova remained on form with another consistent performance that saw him maintain 7th position overall.
Completing the top ten in the stage finish was fellow MINI John Cooper Works Rally driver Yazeed Al Rajhi, although his official overall position is still subject an appeal. Jakub Przygonski was in the first MINI ALL4 Racing car (no.316) to complete the stage in 14th. He also held on to his place in the overall standings in 8th.
2017 Dakar Rally day 8 classifications
1. LOEB Sébastien (FRA) / ELENA Daniel (MON), PEUGEOT3008DKR, 4h11m2s
2. PETERHANSELStéphane (FRA) / COTTRET J-P. (FRA), PEUGEOT3008DKR, +3m35s
3. DESPRES Cyril (FRA) / David CASTERA (FRA), PEUGEOT3008DKR, +5m13s
4. HIRVONEN Mikko (FIN) / PERIN Michel (FRA), Mini, +8m14s
5. DE VILLIERS Giniel (ZAF) / VON ZITZEWITZ Dirk (ZAF), Toyota Hilux, +11m57s
Overall standings after stage 8
1. LOEB Sébastien (FRA) / ELENADaniel (MON), PEUGEOT 3008DKR, 20h10m5s
2. PETERHANSEL Stéphane (FRA) /COTTRET J-P. (FRA), PEUGEOT 3008DKR, +1m38s
3. DESPRES Cyril (FRA) / DavidCASTERA (FRA), PEUGEOT 3008DKR, +17m17s
4. ROMA Nani (ESP) / HARO Bravo(ESP), Toyota Hilux, +23m36s
5. HIRVONEN Mikko (FIN) / PERIN Michel (FRA), Mini, +53m41s