KTM’s Toby Price continues to establish himself as the surprise packet of the Dakar Rally taking fourth place in the weather-shortened eighth stage from Uyuni to Iquique.
This is Price’s third-straight Dakar Rally top-five stage finish, though he is yet to win a stage.
“It was a really up and down day,” Price said. “For me it was just a matter of preserving the bike and trying to get to the finish.
“It’s still in one piece and I am just hoping I can get to the finish line.”
Stage eight is part two of a Marathon leg in which competitors were allowed no overnight assistance from their teams, today’s section proved devastating as competitors kicked off at nearly 4000 metres altitude, into the world’s largest salt lake, which had been affected by rain.
The salt and water in solution was described as “like a kind of cement” by defending champion and Dakar legend Marc Coma, clogging many of the bikes and doing no favours to electronics as well as causing several shakeups at the top of the leaderboard and creating massive attrition in the overall standings.
Price said competitors were shaking their heads seeing all the cars stuck in deep mud, “We all got together prior to stage 8 and discussed weather we should be starting the stage due to how much rain the stage had taken on which started on a crazy salt flat.”
“It was a real bummer to see the organisers go ahead with such a brutal stage that ended a lot of competitors Dakar Rally, crushing any hopes of a podium or even finishing the event.
“The salt water on the salt flats clogged many of the bikes and had especially affected the electronics, resulting in a lot of problems for many of the top riders.”
— Laia Sanz (@LaiaSanz_) January 12, 2015
It was also an important stage for female competitor Laia Sanz who also had a top-five finish in stage eight, “It’s been a hard day but with a great result!” Sans said, currently in ninth place in the Dakar Rally bikes overall standings.
— FIM (@FIM_live) January 13, 2015
Chilean KTM rider Pablo Quintanilla won the stage from Pedrero Garcia and Slovakian Stefan Svitko with fourth-placed Price only 41 seconds behind the winner.
Marc Coma now takes over leadership of the Dakar from Paolo Goncalves, with a quartet of KTMs in tow, Quintanilla (11 minutes), Price (15 minutes), Svitko (26 minutes) and Ruben Faria (34 minutes).
With Bolivia behind them for 2015, the Dakar competitors will tomorrow farewell the Atacama Desert in a 538 kilometre journey from Iquique to Calama, with 450 kilometres of timed Special Stage including 50 plus kilometres of dunes.
Dakar Rally Stage Eight, Uyuni to Iquique – Stage shortened to 378km due to weather conditions
1. 31 Quintanilla (Chl) KTM 02:56:19
2. 10 Pedrero Garcia (Esp) Yamaha 00:00:11
3. 18 Svitko (Svk) KTM 00:00:12
4. 26 Price (Aus) KTM 00:00:41
5. 29 Sanz Pla-Giribert (Esp) Honda 00:02:36
6. 44 De Soultrait (Fra) Yamaha 00:06:36
7. 14 Duclos (Fra) Sherco Tvs 00:06:42
8. 37 Vogels (Nld) KTM 00:07:34
9. 1 Coma (Esp) KTM 00:07:37
10. 11 Faria (Prt) KTM 00:07:44
Dakar Rally Overall Standings After Stage 8:
1. 1 Coma (Esp) KTM 28:51:12
2. 7 Goncalves (Prt) Honda 00:09:11
3. 31 Quintanilla (Chl) KTM 00:11:11
4. 26 Price (Aus) KTM 00:15:56
5. 18 Svitko (Svk) KTM 00:26:30
6. 11 Faria (Prt) KTM 00:34:34
7. 14 Duclos (Fra) Sherco Tvs 00:58:08
8. 9 Casteu (Fra) KTM 01:10:48
9. 29 Sanz Pla-Giribert (Esp) Honda 01:18:51
10. 21 Jakes (Svk) KTM 01:47:47