Pablo Quintanilla won Monday’s attritional eighth motorbike stage in the Dakar Rally as overnight leader Joan Barreda’s title bid evaporated in the spectacular sand dunes on Chile’s Pacific coast. The grueling 784 kilometer (416km timed) trek from Bolivia’s salt flats in Uyuni to Iquique led to a host of high profile contenders for the 2015 title limping out, including last year’s runner-up Jordi Viladoms.
While Honda’s Spanish rider Barreda, who led the standings by over six minutes overnight, is still riding his chance of glory went up in smoke as he lost almost one and a half hours. The riders’ classification is now led by last year’s winner, Marc Coma, who was placed second going into Monday’s ride.
The Spanish four-time Dakar winner riding a KTM finished ninth behind Quintanilla to lead overall by over nine minutes from Paulo Goncalves. Three other high profile contenders whose race ended prematurely on Monday were Michael Metge, Alessandro Botturi and Daniel Gouet.
KTM’s Chilean rider Quintanilla was celebrating his first ever stage win, made all the sweeter as it came on home turf. He moved up a place into third overall, almost half an hour behind Coma. He only took the stage by a mere 11sec from Juan Pedrero Garcia, with Slovakia’s Stefan Svitko another second away in third.
Monday was a rest day for the car category which Qatari veteran Nasser Al-Attiyah leads. Tuesday’s ninth stage is a 450km run from Iquique to Calama.