Pablo Quintanilla won Monday’s attritional eighth motorbike stage in the Dakar Rally as overnight leader Joan Barreda’s title bid evaporated in the spectacular sand dunes on Chile’s Pacific coast.
The gruelling 784 kilometre (416km timed) trek from Bolivia’s salt flats in Uyuni to Iquique led to a host of high profile contenders for the 2015 title limping out, including last year’s runner-up Jordi Viladoms.
While Honda’s Spanish rider Barreda, who led the standings by over six minutes overnight, is still riding his chance of glory went up in smoke as he lost almost one and a half hours.
The riders’ classification is now led by last year’s winner, Marc Coma, who was placed second going into Monday’s ride. The Spanish four-time Dakar winner riding a KTM finished ninth behind Quintanilla to lead overall by over nine minutes from Paulo Goncalves.
The 38-year-old Spaniard admitted the stage had been extremely gruelling. “It was a very extreme day,” said Coma.
“It was too difficult on the salt lake, there was the altitude, the cold, everything mixed in.” Three other high profile contenders whose race ended prematurely on Monday were Michael Metge, Alessandro Botturi and Daniel Gouet.
KTM’s Chilean rider Quintanilla was celebrating his first ever stage win, made all the sweeter as it came on home turf. He moved up a place into third overall, almost half an hour behind Coma. He only took the stage by a mere 11sec from Juan Pedrero Garcia, with Slovakia’s Stefan Svitko another second away in third.
In fourth came Australian Dakar first-timer Toby Price, only 41sec behind the stage winner, and in fifth Laia Sanz, who is edging closer to being the first ever woman to win a motorbike stage on the event described as motorsport’s Everest. “Today was a really hard day,” confessed Sanz. “At the beginning some riders didn’t want to start because it was dangerous and cold.
“But in the end for me it was a good stage. I’m very happy with this fifth position,” added the 29-year-old, who first competed in the Dakar in 2011. Monday was a rest day for the car category which Qatari veteran Nasser Al-Attiyah leads. Tuesday’s ninth stage is a 450km run from Iquique to Calama.
Results after eighth stage of the motorcycling category in the Dakar Rally on Monday a 784 kilometres timed-run from Uyuni in Bolivia to Iquique in Chile (rest day for cars):
1. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI/Ktm) 2hr 56min 19sec
2. Juan Pedrero Garcia (ESP/Yamaha) at 11sec
3. Stefan Svitko (SVK/Ktm) 12
4. Toby Price (AUS/Ktm) 41
5. Laia Sanz Pla-Giribert (ESP/Honda) 2min 36sec
6. Xavier De Soultrait (FRA/Yamaha) 6:36
7. Alain Duclos (FRA/Sherco Tvs) 6:42
8. Hans Vogels (NED/Ktm) 7:34
9. Marc Coma (ESP/Ktm) 7:37
10. Ruben Faria (POR/Ktm) 7:44
1. Marc Coma (ESP/Ktm) 28hr 51min 12sec
2. Paulo Goncalves (POR/Honda) at 9min 11sec
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI/Ktm) 11:11
4. Toby Price (AUS/Ktm) 15:56
5. Stefan Svitko (SVK/Ktm) 26:30
6. Ruben Faria (POR/Ktm) 34:34
7. Alain Duclos (FRA/Sherco Tvs) 58:08
8. David Casteu (FRA/Ktm) 1hr 10:48
9. Laia Sanz Pla-Giribert (ESP/Honda) 1hr 18:51
10. Ivan Jakes (SVK/Ktm) 1hr 47:47