Wadi, the valley in Arabic, is a fairly good way to describe the stage in which the cars, SSVs, and trucks took part today. Crews did not see much relief, apart from around one hundred kilometers on the Wajid plateau which has several canyons that change up the scenery from the otherwise dune area.
For most of the stage, all that changed was the shades of the sand for the competitors depending on their position in relation to the sun. Following a fast, straight portion over the first fifty kilometers, they had to overcome a sequence of small chains of dunes before reaching the finishing line. In this domain, the usual specialists were not troubled.
Due to the accident in yesterday’s stage, the Dakar organizers had decided to cancel the bike and quad rally for Stage 8. The absence of the bikes opening the way following the cancellation of their stage in homage to Paulo Gonçalves, the usual leading lights of the car category had a difficult time with navigation.
Following his first success on the Dakar yesterday, Blade Hildebrand has resumed at the same pace and showed with the best time through 46 km. Mitchell Guthrie resumed the rally in the Dakar Experience formula which allows him to continue to gain experience.
Casey Currie was the new leader of the general standings after Stage 7 but did not have an easy day like he did yesterday. He has swapped roles with Chaleco López, who is heading back up the standings. After 212 km, the Chilean has regained more than 10 minutes over Currie.
“Today wasn’t the best of days,” Currie said. “We broke an axel early on. Luckily I’ve got Sean in the car and for what takes most guys 45 minutes we got it fixed in eight minutes. We pushed hard all day. We had to change a belt with about 20 km to go, but overall it’s going to be a long fight, so what it was for today, we’ll take it. We’re going to keep pushing. The car’s working great, we just need better days.”
When the dust settled it was still an American taking home the stage win. Mitchell Guthrie won his second stage of the 2020 Dakar. Now taking part in the Dakar Experience formula following his withdrawal yesterday, the American was able to resume racing thanks to the engine offered by his team-mate Cyril Despres and has won the stage 2 minutes and 27 seconds ahead of Reinaldo Varela. Chaleco López completes the day’s podium and has made up half the time that separated him from Currie for the overall lead.