The second loop stage of the Rally was no where close to easy. With the bikes and quads Stage 8 cancelled the cars would lead the way today. It would be a day of drag racing as the course would have multiple long stretches one for 40km, 24 miles of foot to the floor and hold her straight. Because of the cars going first the organization bumped their start time up to when the bikes would’ve started. The first car left the bivouac at 6:00am sharp and made the 132 kilometer liaison to the start of the special. The special was 477 kilometer making for a long loop.
“The day’s loop is an opportunity to head south, where the competitors will find mountain landscapes, canyons and surprising color contrasts: black stones on white sand for example… Pure speed freaks will get what they want with a 40 km straight line, foot to the floor, while the few dune fields of the day will demand considerable dexterity.” – Dakar
Terrain Breakdown for Stage 8
- 58% Sand
- 23% Dunes
- 19% Soil
Casey and Sean would be the first SSV off the line and the rest of the field would be nipping at their heels. At the first checkpoint at KM46 he’d be running 6th on corrected time only 50 seconds off the lead SSV. He would hold this position until KM212 where Casey would break an axle. It would take them 8 minutes to replace the part and get back racing. This knocked him back to 13th on corrected time just over 13 minutes off of the lead SSV and losing 11 minutes to Francisco Lopez Contardo who runs 2nd in the overall.
At the 400 kilometer mark Casey’s teammate Gerard Farres would run into his own problems when he misjudged a dune and would crash damaging his car. He would have to wait for assistance before continuing. He would get going and was still able to finish the stage and would finish 2 hours down on the day.
So, if you have a stage where you were unable to finish but still want to keep racing, Dakar has an answer for that this year. Last year if you couldn’t complete a stage in the first half you can return at the halfway mark in a new category. This year they introduced Dakar Experience category which allows you to continue racing to gain experience in competing at Dakar without being able to place in the Overall Standings. If you don’t finish a stage and are able to fix your vehicle before the next stage you can return the following day in the Dakar Experience category.
Casey was right behind Farres when he took his spill and after a quick stop to make sure they were ok they were back moving. But they ran into the next issue of their belt temperatures running too high. So they stopped and preemptively changed a belt not wanting to blow the belt and cause more work for themselves. It’d take 7 minutes and they we back underway to the finish. Casey would lose 16 minutes on the stage to Francisco but still holds on to the SSV overall by 15 minutes with 4 Stages to go.
“Alright Stage 8 is over, today was a long day. 150 kilometers in we broke an axle somehow, got it changed. I don’t think we lost more than 10 minutes. We pushed hard all day and then we lost a belt at the end and put us down another 3 minutes. Overall, we’re 16 minutes down for the day, it’s tough but we’re going to keep pushing. Still 1st overall with 4 more days to go.” – Casey
Stage 9 will be the longest total stage of the race at 886 kilometers, 550 miles. That’s further than driving from San Diego to San Francisco except half of it will be in the dirt.
Stage 8 SSV Results
- Reinaldo Varela 4h 50m 48s
- Francisco Lopez Contardo +22s
- Austin Jones +07m 21s
- Sergei Kariakin +08m 17s
- Aron Domzala +13m 10s
- Casey Currie +16m 45s
SSV Overall Results after Stage 8
- Casey Currie 39h 47m 37s
- Francisco Lopez Contardo +15m 40s
- Sergei Kariakin +34m 29s
- Conrad Rautenbach +1h 06m 03s
- Jose Hinojo Lopez +01h 08m 25s
Story and photos courtesy of CaseyCurrie.com