The Dakar Rally 2014 travelled to Calama, Chile during Stage 8 on January 13, 2014.  Cars and trucks came from Salta, Argentina.  Bikes and quads resumed their two-part marathon stage from Uyuni, Bolivia.  Part of the bike/quad route was supposed to cross part of the world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni.  However, weather conditions forced officials to omit that bit of the course.  That didn’t put a damper on things as the top ten bikes finished the stage within a fifteen minute period.  #2 Marc Coma is still very much in the lead, with his countryman #3 Joan Barreda Bort right behind him.  Bort is intent on winning the first Dakar Rally for Honda in this century, but has to make up thirty-eight minutes before looking like a proper contender for Coma.  The day’s winner was #1 Cyril Despres who looked a lot like his usual self thundering towards Chile.

“The idea isn’t really to go looking for stage victories, but rather to try and get back to the front of the rally as much as possible. Today, by making up the difference on the tracks between myself and the first riders, I won the special, and that’s always a pleasure…” – Stage 8 winner #1 Cyril Despres

Dakar Rally 2014 Stage 8
“The stage was easy since there was no navigation and a lot of fast tracks. The real difficulty was the altitude. We all had a bad night’s sleep. And it was long: 500 km which took an age to go by. We’ve just completed the Bolivian part of the rally and it was a section that worried me. I was worried about finding myself in a bad situation. I had a few problems, but nothing bad. For me, up to now it’s all gone ok. Without taking risks and playing the waiting game I’m now third in the general standings as we arrive at the desert stages. So, for the moment, it’s all going well.” – #4 Jordi Villadoms (© Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool)

#22 Alain Duclos had a tough time on his Sherco.  Mechanical problems combined with difficulty coping the high altitude saw him finish 23rd but still barely holding his fourth overall spot.  At this point, he’s definitely not the picture of consistency.  #4 Jordi Villadoms has been a pleasant surprise in this race.  He’s not only a new addition to the KTM team but is doing a great job as Coma’s support rider.  If their team work is anything like that of Cyril Despres and Ruben Faria in the past, we could be witnessing an unstoppable force in the making.  Speaking of an unstoppable force, we’re pleased to say that Texas-based engineer #92 Mike Johnson is still in the race!  He finished the stage 67th and is 80th overall.  We wish there was more to tell of his progress but all we have are stats at this time.

Dakar Rally 2014 Stage 8
Carlos Sainz (driver) and Timo Gottschalk (co-driver) seen at the finish line of the 8th stage of Dakar Rally from Salta, Argentina to Calama, Chile on January 13th, 2014 © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

2011 Dakar Rally winner #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-driver, Lucas Cruz won the stage thus maintaining hold on the fourth overall place.  Al-Attiyah led a Mini onslaught with six of them in the top ten.  The second-fastest car that day belonged to #300 Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret, while #303 Carlos Sainz and Timo Gottschalk in the SMG buggy finished third.  All these brilliant runs were all well and good but the man they’re all trying to catch is still #304 Nani Roma along with his co-driver Michel Perin.  Peterhansel is hot on their tail with less than twenty-five minutes to make up in order to catch the Spanish driver.  Toyota is being well-represented by #302 Giniel De Villiers and Dirk Von Zitzewitz in this year’s Dakar Rally.  He’s holding strong third overall and holding off some heavy-hitters like Al-Attiyah, Sainz and another Mini driver who’s been performing well #307 Orlando Terranova.  Along with his Portuguese co-driver, Paulo Fiúza, Terranova has performed quite well finishing each stage in the top ten and staying within the overall top five.  The Argentine has participated in this race seven times since 2005, and only reached the end twice.  We really hope this plucky duo will enjoy finishing with their Mini team mates in Valparaíso, Chile on Saturday.

#506 Andrey Karginov won his second stage for this year’s race, followed by #500 Gérard De Rooy and #549 Dmitry Sotnikov.  There has been some fierce competition in the Trucks class this year but quite frankly it’s a battle for second and third place.  De Rooy is firmly in the lead and still over half-hour ahead of the first runner-up.  Three Kamaz Master trucks are behind him but haven’t been able to close the gap, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying.  #504 Ales Loprais is still very much in the game as well as De Rooy’s cousin and team mate #507 Hans Stacey.  He’ll have a hard time getting past all those Russians on the general ranking list but that hasn’t stopped him from adding pressure to them during the stages.  Stacey won this race in 2007 and knows what it takes to conquer the sands of South America.

Stage 9 was completed on January 14, 2014 and needless to say, it’s time for the ladies and gentlemen to put up or shut up.  We’ll provide you with highlights and photos from the bivouac in our recap.  You can also get live updates with The Dakar Rally official mobile apps and official social media channels: