The long and winding road resumes at Dakar

Following a day off from racing the action got back into gear for Stage Seven at the desert classic.
By Tim Sturtridge

The Rest Day in Salta represented a chance for the hardy souls at the 2014 Dakar Rally to take stock of the situation after a full week of flat out racing. Following 24 hours of mechanical tune-ups and a recharge of the batteries it was back to business with a bang for all four categories.

Reigning truck class champion Eduard Nikolaev was quickest along the 525km loop around the Salta bivouac. The result was the Kamaz trucker’s first stage win at this Dakar as he looks to defend his title. Hot on the heels of Nikolaev was Gerard De Rooy who leads the truck race in the overall classification. The Dutchman only conceded four minutes to Nikolaev and looks determined to dig in and defend his one-hour advantage over the Russian in the second week at the Dakar.

The cars took a similar route to the trucks on Stage Seven and bringing home the win was 2010 Dakar Rally champion Carlos Sainz. It was the Spaniard’s second stage win at the race and the perfect way for the Red Bull SMG Rally Team to return to action following the Rest Day. The Stage Seven victory saw Carlos take more than eight minutes out of Nani Roma’s lead over him in the general rankings.

Stage Seven saw the bikes and quads embark on their second marathon stage of this Dakar as they brought the race to Bolivia for the first time. Low cloud cover in the morning saw the helicopters that accompany the race unable to take off so the 400km timed special stage was slightly reduced.

When the dust finally settled on the bike race it was the Honda of Joan Barreda that clocked the quickest time. In close attendance to Barreda was overall race leader Marc Coma who arrived in Bolivia with a second place finish on the stage. Five-time Dakar champion Cyril Despres was also in the thick of the action as he rounded off the top three.

Ignacio Casale was at the controls of the fastest quad through the first ever Dakar stage in Bolivia. Casale will now enter his native Chile leading the race with Uruguay’s Sergio Lafuente and Poland’s Rafal Sonik completing the top trio in the general rankings.

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Eduard Nikolaev hunts down a stage win
Eduard Nikolaev hunts down a stage win © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Marc Coma’s Bitesize Blog…

“The media presence in the Dakar Rally in incredible. When the race moved to South America I don’t think anybody expected it to grow so much. There are press, TV and photographers from all over the world following the Dakar Rally. At the end of each stage everyone is desperate to know the news so there is a lot of people to speak to and deal with. If you have a great stage then it’s easy but if you have a bad one it’s not so much fun.”

Dakar Alphabet… Q is for Quest into the unknown

No two stages of the Dakar are ever the same and seasoned racers will tell you that as soon as you start to feel too comfortable on the course then a big surprise will be waiting for you around the next corner. Competitors are given their roadbooks the evening before each stage of the Dakar, giving them a rough plan of the route the following stage will take. This document must be studied fully to ensure all hidden dangers are discovered before it’s too late.

On This Stage…

2009: Chaleco Lopez is a home crowd hero as his debut Dakar stage win comes as the rally arrives in Chile for the first time.

Dakar Quiz…

Which Argentine golfer won the 2007 US Open and the 2009 Masters, becoming the first player from his country to win these tournaments?

☐ Andrés Romero
☐ Eduardo Romero
☐ Ángel Cabrera

Yesterday’s answer: The fossilised remains of the Argentinosaurus were first found in the province of Neuquen.

Coming Tomorrow…

The route into Chile for the cars and trucks takes them over the Andes Cordillera and challenges their driving skills over some of the fastest tracks of the entire rally. The bikes and quads start the day in Bolivia and their timed special takes place within the confines of the biggest salt flat on the planet. Competitors from all four race categories will then meet up in Calama bivouac to swap their tales of adventure.

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