Nasser Al-Attiyah survived a torrential rainstorm on Stage Eight of the 2013 Dakar to keep the Qatar Red Bull Rally Team in the hunt for victory.
Today’s route between Salta and Tucuman was originally scheduled to include a 471km timed special but as weather conditions worsened the stage became impossible to drive.
Nasser and co-driver Lucas Cruz had made a bright start to the stage before the heavens opened and the day turned into a washout. Nasser’s Buggy was the fastest car over the first 100km before Stage Eight came to a premature end.
The Qatari driver’s pace was so impressive that he had made managed to put himself as the race’s provisional overall leader with an advantage of 1m59s before the track turned into a mudbath.
Nasser and his Buggy were one of the first cars to fall victim to the freshly created swamps on Stage Eight. The Qatar Red Bull Rally Team driver was powerless to avoid getting stuck as the stage was flooded by relentless rain causing rivers to overflow. When he did attempt to cross the river the Buggy was simply spun around and spat back out onto the riverbed by the force of the water.
The ultimate decision of the race stewards was to hand all of the cars that were unable to complete the stage the same time as the last competitor who finished before the neutralisation. This revised result keeps Nasser in second place overall and trailing Stephane Peterhansel by just 3m14s.
After the recovery operation to remove the Buggy from Stage Eight it was driven by Nasser to the Tucuman bivouac where it will be inspected on tomorrow’s Rest Day by the Qatar Red Bull Rally Team’s mechanics. Nasser’s car will be tuned up and ready to attack during the final week of the 2013 Dakar.
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “The stage was going very well for us and we had the lead until the conditions on the stage changed. It was raining and lots of water was coming down from the mountains that made the rivers impossible to cross. We tried to look for another route to cross the river but there was no way. We decided we just had to stop and we called the race organisers to let them know there was no way to cross the river. They told us then that they were in the process of stopping the race.
“It was our plan to come to the Rest Day with the lead but sometimes we must accept what will be. There’s still a long way to go at this race and after the Rest Day I will start the following stage as the sixth car. This will give me a great chance to make up some time in this race.”
Lucas Cruz (co-driver of Nasser Al-Attiyah): “There are no boring days at the Dakar and once again we had plenty of excitement today. We caught up a lot of time to Stephane (Peterhansel) today before we reached a riverbed that was impossible to cross. We were fast today but it’s better when you can hold onto the time you make up rather than have it taken away.”
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