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The eighth stage of Dakar 2022 saw GasGas rider Sam Sunderland and Audi's Sebastian Loeb claim victory. Riders and drives raced across 395 kilometres today blasting across the sands of Saudi Arabia from Al Dawadimi to Wadi Ad Dawasir. Sunderland's victory saw him regain the overall lead in the bikes category while Toyota's Nasser Al-Attiyah continues to lead the cars section.
The sole remaining GasGas rider Sam Sunderland blasted across the 395-kilometre route finishing the special stage with a time of 3 hours 48 minutes and 2 seconds. Sunderland beat Honda rider Pablo Quintanilla by 2 minutes and 53 seconds to claim the stage win. The British rider led the stage at every waypoint to claim a dominant victory.
The final podium spot was claimed by KTM rider Mattias Walkner with the Austrian finishing 4 minutes and 11 seconds behind Sunderland.
The lead rider among the five riding on Indian metal across the dunes of Saudi Arabia was Hero's Portuguese rider Joaquim Rodrigues who finished the stage in 8th place, 9 minutes and 58 seconds behind Sunderland. Rodrigues was followed by TVS Sherco's Rui Goncalves in 14th who finished the stage 5 minutes and 17 seconds behind his fellow countryman.
Spanish TVS Sherco rider Lorenzo Santolino was the next on the timing sheets in the 20th spot and was followed by Hero South African rider Aaron mare who finished the stage 4 seconds behind Santolino in 21st. India's Harith Noah finished the stage in 26th astride his TVS Sherco 450 SEF Rally bike.
After 8 stages of the Dakar rally, GasGas rider Sam Sunderland once again finds himself atop the standings. Sunderland regained the lead from his brother-in-law, Yamaha rider Adrien Van Beveren who dropped into third spot after today's stage. In second place, 3 minutes and 45 seconds behind Sunderland sits Austrian KTM rider Matthias Walkner with Van Beveren a further 58 seconds adrift.
Santolino continues to be the highest-ranked rider astride a bike with an Indian name on its gas tank. The TVS Sherco rider sits in 7th, 21 minutes and 9 seconds behind Sunderland. Joaquim Rodrigues sits 15th, two places ahead of Hero teammate Aaron Mare. Indian rider Harith Noah is currently ranked 26th, one place ahead of teammate Rui Goncalves.
Mattias Ekstrom sealed an Audi 1-2 on the 8th stage of Dakar 2022 as the German marque's electric RS Q e-tron racers continue to show off their outright speed. Ekstrom finished the stage in 3 hours 43 minutes and 21 seconds, edging out teammate and Dakar wins record holder Stephane Peterhansel by just 49 seconds.
In third spot, was Frenchman Sebastian Loeb. Loeb finished the race 3 minutes and 8 seconds behind the lead Audi of Ekstrom. The WRC legend managed to keep Ekstrom's teammate 'El Matador' Carlos Sainz off the podium by just 3 seconds preventing Audi from claiming what would have been a historic clean sweep of the podium places.
Loeb's podium run also saw him cut the overall lead of current leader Nasser Al-Attiyah by 7 minutes and 1 second after the Qatari Toyota driver finished the stage in 11th, 10 minutes and 9 seconds behind stage winner Ekstrom. Al-Attiyah still has a stranglehold on the top spot at Dakar 2022 and leads Loeb by 37 minutes and 58 seconds. Occupying the final podium spot is Saudi's Yazeed Al Rajhi, who sits 53 minutes and 13 seconds behind the race leader.
Thoughts On Dakar 2022: Stage 8
The eighth stage of Dakar 2022 saw British rider Sam Sunderland regain the overall lead with a brilliant start to finish ride which saw the GasGas man lead at every checkpoint of today's stage. With just 4 stages left, the overall win in the bikes category is still too close to predict.
In the car's section though, Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah's grip on the top spot remains unchallenged despite the Toyota driver losing a chunk of time to his immediate rival Sebastian Loeb. The Frenchman will need a miracle if he wishes to end the rally on the top step of the final podium.