Titleholder Cyril Despres led the way home in the eighth stage of the Dakar Rally. It was the Frenchman’s first stage win of the year.
It was not enough to knock Marc Coma off the overall lead. He took second in the 460-kilometre high altitude route for motorbikes from Bolivia down into Chile and is comfortably ahead of Joan Barreda Bort.
The Spaniard had come home second on this stage around what are the world’s biggest salt flats, but a penalty saw him drop to third. He tails Coma by 38 minutes in the overall standings.
On four wheels Nassar Al-Attiyah of Qatar took the stage – a 300 kilometre special – from Salta Argentina over the Andes in a time of just over two and a half hours.
One hour and 12 minutes behind was the defending champion Stephane Peterhansel. The Frenchman remains in second overall behind Nani Roma.
Roma endured two punctures on the stony track and finished the stage in sixth place. It meant the Spaniard lost eight minutes off his lead but remains 24 minutes clear of Peterhansel in the overall standings.
The rally returns to the treacherous sand dunes for the ninth stage racing through the Atacama Desert.