With poor weather conditions playing a major part in today's stage eight of the 2017 Dakar Rally, the duo of Yamaha Racing's Adrien Van Beveren and Xavier de Soultrait reached the end of the two-day-long marathon stage retaining their strong third and sixth positions respectively in the rally's provisional overall rankings. Joined at the finish of today's stage by Hélder Rodrigues, the trio of Yamaha riders will continue pushing for even better results in the remaining stages of this year's Dakar Rally.
Rising river water levels forced organisers to modify the stage, splitting the timed special into two parts. Making a cautious start to the special stage, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team's Adrien Van Beveren went on to post the 11th fastest time of the day. With four stages left to be contested in this year's Dakar Rally the Frenchman is still holding on to a very strong third place in the rally's provisional overall standings.
Trying to make the most of his experience in the difficult conditions of today's stage, Hélder Rodrigues struggled to find a good race pace and had to settle for 18th. The Portuguese rider is currently 16th in the rally's standings, less than 30 minutes behind the provisional top 10.
Attacking today's second part of the marathon stage, WR450F mounted Xavier de Soultrait was the highest placed Yamaha rider. Involved in some great battles with the fastest riders of the day, the Frenchman wrapped up the stage in ninth to retain his impressive sixth place in the provisional overall standings.
With 2014 Dakar Rally champion Ignacia Casale topping today's standings in the Quad class, Yamaha Raport 700R mounted Russian Sergey Karyakin retains his lead in the provisional standings.
Update: With all major roads being blocked due to flooding and mud slides, team crews and competitors eventually reached the Salta bivouac right after midnight, which forced race organisers to cancel Wednesday's stage nine. Yamaha Racing riders together with their team crews will now head directly to next day's bivouac in Chilecito, where the race will resume on Thursday morning.
Alexandre Kowalski - Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team director
"This Dakar is proving to be super tough for everybody. The heavy rainfall during the last few days has created lots of problems in northern Argentina. Along with our riders who've been battling to retain their positions in the overall standings, it's also been a hard day for support crews. With all main roads covered in mud, it was impossible for us to reach Salta before midnight. Stage nine has been cancelled so at 5:00am on Wednesday morning we will take the road to Chilecito. The race will resume there on Thursday morning. Overall, we're really happy our riders got to the end of this gruelling marathon stage without any major changes in their positions in the overall. Adrien and Xavier are still third and sixth respectively and Hélder dropped to 16th. Our focus now is on the remaining three competitive stages. Every day that goes by we get one step closer to our goal. We will continue giving our best until we reach the end in Buenos Aires."
Dakar Rally 2017 - Stage 8 - Provisional Classification
1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 04:28:21
2. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 04:32:12, +03:51
3. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 04:32:15, +03:54
4. Michael Metge (FRA), Honda, 04:32:46, +04:25
5. Joan Pedrero (ESP), Sherco, 04:34:21, +06:00
6. Paulo Gonçalves (POR), Honda, 04:35:27, +07:06
9. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA), Yamaha, 04:37:52, +09:31
11. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 04:38:48, +10:27
18. Hélder Rodrigues (POR), Yamaha, 04:46:51, +18:30
Dakar Rally 2017 - Overall Classification [After Stage 8]
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 22:01:08
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 22:22:06, +20:58
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 22:29:57, +28:49
4. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 22:35:22, +34:14
5. Gerard Farres (ESP), KTM, 22:35:32, +34:24
6. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA), 22:51:18, +50:10
16. Hélder Rodrigues (POR), Yamaha, 24:03:53, +02:02:45