Tuesday was the second day of the marathon stage in Bolivia. The riders had to half-circle and cross the “Salar de Uyuni”, the biggest salt flat in the world.

After 462 km of special test Yamaha’s Cyrlil Despres took the stage victory over the two men fighting for the outright lead, Joan Barreda and Marc Coma.

Marc Coma finished six seconds behind Barreda on a day when the race arrived in Chile.

Now the field is in front of a few long and hard days with lots of sand through the famous Atacama desert.

Joan: “Today was quite a fast stage, with nice tracks, partly on the salt flats. It was not possible to ´run away´ from my opponents, as I had to do also the opening navigation, but I am happy with the result. Important is that the bike and I passed very well through the second marathon stage and the high altitude conditions. Now we can attack more in the sand of Chile during the coming days.”

Dakar 2014, Stage 8:
1. Cyril Despres (FRA, Yamaha) 05:23:20 hrs
2. Joan Barreda (ESP, Honda) +00:02:09
3. Marc Coma (ESP, KTM) +00:02:15
4. Helder Rodrigues (PRT, Honda) +00:06:38
5. Olivier Pain (FRA, Yamaha) +00:10:40
6. Michael Metge (FRA, Yamaha) +00:12:58
7. Riaan van Niekerk (ZAF, KTM) +00:13:15
8. Daniel Gouet (CHL, Honda) +00:13:23
9. Jakub Przygonski (POL, KTM) +00:13:29
10. Jordi Viladoms (ESP, KTM) +00:13:34

After 462 km of special test Yamaha's Cyrlil Despres took the stage victory

After 462 km of special test Yamaha’s Cyrlil Despres took the stage victory

Provisional overall standings:
1. Marc Coma (ESP, KTM) 32:06:19 hrs
2. Joan Barreda (ESP, Honda) +00:38:08
3. Jordi Viladoms (ESP, KTM) +01:27:22
4. Alain Duclos (FRA, Sherco) +01:49:09
5. Jeremias Israel Esquerre (CHL, Speedbrain) +01:52:05
6. Olivier Pain (FRA, Yamaha) +01:59:07
7. Jakub Przygonski (POL, KTM) +02:06:06
8. Helder Rodrigues (PRT, Honda) +02:12:41
9. Cyril Despres (FRA, Yamaha) +02:23:58
10. Daniel Gouet (CHL, Honda) +02:38:51

Joan Barreda, yesterday’s winner, set about cutting down the distance with the overall race leader, opening the way in the special, in a solitary ride in which we clocked up a total time of 2’10”, second only to Cyril Despres. Barreda has clawed back four seconds from Marc Coma in the overall standings.

Joan Barreda, yesterday’s winner, set about cutting down the distance with the overall race leader, opening the way in the special, in a solitary ride in which we clocked up a total time of 2’10”, second only to Cyril Despres. Barreda has clawed back four seconds from Marc Coma in the overall standings.

Yamaha Report

The wait is over today as Yamaha Factory Racing’s Cyril Despres made a little piece of history, taking his maiden stage victory with the manufacturer. After a challenging first half of the 2014 Dakar Rally, Despres was on fine form today, controlling the pace at the front of the field with his YZ450F machine to complete the special stage over two minutes clear of his rivals. The result moves him up a place in the overall standings to ninth.

The defending champion started third this morning on the 499km special, and was quick to catch Marc Coma before closing in on Joan Barreda as they tackled the route around the salt pans of Uyuni. Despres eventually arrived at the bivouac in Calama 2’09 ahead of Barreda and 2’15 in front of Marc Coma.

The other two Yamaha Factory Racing riders also posted fine results with their YZ450F Rally machines, Olivier Pain finishing fifth, 10m40s behind and Michael Metge just behind in sixth, 12m58s from the front. The results mean Pain retains sixth overall and Metge sits in 14th position.

Chile’s Ignacio Casale took today’s stage win on his Yamaha Raptor to keep the overall lead in the standings and Uruguay’s Sergio Lafuente came third to hold second overall. Polish rider Rafal Sonik was not far behind in fourth, which keeps him third overall and makes it still a Yamaha top three.

Cyril Despres
“I have to be honest and admit that I didn’t set out this morning to win the special, it was more a by-product of my determination to move up the overall rankings. I won’t deny though that I’m delighted with the result, both for myself and for Yamaha.

“Yesterday wasn’t easy, with an early start on the bivouac and rain on the liaison. Then at altitude I wasn’t 100%, with the thin air making it hard work on the bike. When we finally got to the bivouac in Bolivia myself and Mika took a long time to clean up the bikes and make sure they were up to today’s special, finishing at around ten in the evening. Then this morning we had more rain at the liaison, though fortunately the special was mainly dry. Tomorrow should be an interesting day riding to Iquique and there could be quite a lot of navigation. It won’t be easy opening the piste but I will continue to push.”

Olivier Pain
“Overall the marathon stage was positive; I’m here at the end without injury which given the conditions, especially the altitude, was far from being a foregone conclusion! And although I haven’t gained any places overall I’ve moved closer. The other day I was 45 minutes off the podium, now I’m 30 minutes, so it is moving in the right direction. If I am to attain my goal however I can’t afford to make any errors from here to the end.”

Michael Metge
“A couple of tough days, but not too many problems. I didn’t suffer too much with the altitude, but my ears hurt like hell coming down! Then on the liaison today into the bivouac there was a really strong wind and we had to ride at an angle so as not to get blown over. Equally impressive were the number of people who came out to welcome us in Bolivia. Excuse the pun – but I was blown away!”

HRC Report

TEAM HRC’s Joan Barreda finished the eighth stage of the Rally Dakar 2014 in second place. Hélder Rodrigues crossed the finish-line in fourth, and Laia Sanz continues her run of excellent performances on the Honda CRF450 RALLY pre-production model.

The Dakar said goodbye to an accommodating and vibrant Bolivia, and has moved on to Chile. Today saw the second leg of the marathon stage, in the area of Salar de Uyuni, which had been reduced in length by some twelve kilometres.

Joan Barreda, yesterday’s winner, set about cutting down the distance with the overall race leader, opening the way in the special, in a solitary ride in which we clocked up a total time of 2’10”, second only to Cyril Despres. Barreda has clawed back four seconds from Marc Coma in the overall standings.

Hélder Rodrigues, looking far more at ease in this stage, finished fourth some 6’44” behind the stage winner, and Javier Pizzolito ended the race in eighteenth.

Honda Argentina Rally Team’s accumulation of good stage results continues with Laia Sanz always in the top twenty at the various time checks, finishing fifteenth at the end of the day. Team-mate Pablo ‘Cacha’ Rodríguez finished in the top fifty.

Joan Barreda 2nd +2’10 TEAM HRC
“It was a really long special today and I’m very pleased with the marathon. I was ahead, opening the way, pushing hard and forcing the pace to try and cause the others to make mistakes. It hasn’t happened yet, but we have done really well with a couple of great stages and I’m very satisfied with a job well done.”

Helder Rodrigues 4th +6’44 TEAM HRC
“It was a good stage for me and I’ve picked up a few minutes on my nearest rivals. My goal is to fight for a place on the podium, that’s 45 minutes away, which is quite a lot, but I’m determined to give my all to achieve it.”

Speedbrain Report

The eighth stage of the Rally Dakar ended on Monday with the second part of the marathon stage. The riders had to race through the stunning landscapes of the Altiplano plateau from Bolivia to Chile. The whole stage was held at an altitude of 3,500 metres, making it an enormous challenge for man and machine. The athletes half-circled and crossed the “Salar de Uyuni”, the biggest salt flat in the world. There were no major hurdles riding-wise, so it was mostly about keeping calm and collected and nurse the bike and tyres towards the bivouac.

The four riders of the Speedbrain customer race team played it safe. There was no possibility to attack anyway. Jeremias Israel Esquerre maintained his fifth place in the overall classification despite a small damage to his frontbrake. He took no risk ahead of Tuesday´s stage on home territory, where he wants to have a strong showing for his fans and his main sponsor MAPFRE.

Bolivia´s “Chavo” Salvatierra defended his good position in the overall ranks as well. No worries too for Paolo Ceci and Pedro Oliveira.

Jeremias Israel Esquerre: “Two days of marathon stage are always tough. This time it was even tougher because I damaged my frontbrake yesterday. Therefore I decided to ride my Speedbrain 450 Rally with a lot of caution, which really is a great bike. I´m happy I defended my position and now I´m looking forward to a special type of homecoming. I´m highly motivated and plan to attack.”

Tuesday brings a rather short stage of 450 kilometres. The special test ends with 150 km through the spectacular dunes of Iquique.

TOMORROW’S STAGE – Tuesday, January 14 – Stage 9: Calama – Iquique – Liasion: 29 km – Special: 422 km – Total: 451 km

A steep drop: thrills guaranteed - The 2014 Dakar will reach its most northern point in Iquique, where the competitors will see the ocean for the first time this year. Above all, the drivers and teams will discover the Atacama Dunes again after a first part of a special stage which will be rather tedious. Dune specialists will be in command over a distance of almost 150km. Thrills will be guaranteed at the very end of the day, on the last three kilometres of the descen t to Iquique: there is more than a 30% difference in height from start to finish and it is almost not recommended to break. The law of gravitation takes on its full meaning: the bivouac is not far away!

TOMORROW'S STAGE - Tuesday, January 14 - Stage 9: Calama - Iquique - Liasion: 29 km - Special: 422 km - Total: 451 km

TOMORROW’S STAGE – Tuesday, January 14 – Stage 9: Calama – Iquique – Liasion: 29 km – Special: 422 km – Total: 451 km