After the extra-long break from the cancellation of Stage 6 and the planned rest day, racers got moving again. Stage 7 of the Dakar brought racers from La Paz, Bolivia over 622 kilometers (about 386.5 miles) to Uyuni, Bolivia. The course includes blasting through the Salar d’Uyuni salt flats and long stretches of sandy tracks for racers to navigate and attempt to not get stuck.
The race was again shortened due to weather conditions and rising rivers. This time, 73 kilometers (45 miles) were taken off. Stéphane Peterhansel picked up his second stage victory and now matches Sébastien Loeb’s stage win count. Peterhansel leads Loeb by 48 seconds in the general standings. Giniel de Villiers driving a Toyota and Mikko Hirvonen in a Mini maintained their positions and Nani Roma beat out Cyril Despres to take fifth.
“The lead is better than nothing.” Peterhansel shares, “The overall classification is still very close, but it’s a really interesting race for everybody, I think. We’re still in the fight and that’s the most important thing.”
Loeb explained the stage further. “It wasn’t a long stage, but it was quite complicated, with a lot of sand, dunes, and navigation at the start. At the end, there was a lot of mud, with big water splashes in faster sections, so we had to be a bit careful, but it was ok and there is no problem with the car. I think we drove quite a good stage and we will see how it is for the others. It went well and it seems that compared to Roma we are in front, but he’s just finishing now so maybe he’s in front of us. It was ok, but there’s a long way to go.”
Stage 8 will bring the Dakar back towards Argentina. There’s still lots of racing to go!