Three "Blues” top the leader board: Volkswagen comfortably defended its first three positions overall on the Dakar Rally’s eighth stage between Antofagasta to Copiapó. Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) finished second on the day and continue to hold the overall lead by 14 minutes 35 seconds ahead of their team mates Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) and 22 minutes 28 seconds in front of Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA).
The rally professionals staged and open head-to-head battle throughout the 472 kilometre long and extremely tough stage through Chile. The official time keeping recorded no less than four changes to the lead. To start, the X-raid BMW drivers Guerlain Chicherit (F) and Stéphane Peterhansel (F) exchanged places up until the mid-point of the stage before Mark Miller assumed the lead for Volkswagen.

Then last year’s winners Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) took control of proceedings in the fourth Race Touareg before they were caught by Peterhansel just short of the finish line after suffering their second puncture. Peterhansel, who also complained of a tyre failure, nevertheless moved up to fourth place overall as closest rival to the Volkswagen trio almost two hours behind. After suffering two punctures each Sainz, Miller, de Villiers and Al-Attiyah took second to fifth on the day separated by 3 minutes 32 seconds.

The eighth "Dakar” day was dominated by a near 400 kilometre long, extremely stony section. Large boulders and trial-like passages made this part of the 472 kilometre long special stage into a real challenge for suspension and tyres. Constant changes of rhythm demanded permanent concentration from the drivers and navigators. A dune section of soft sand ended the stage between Antofagasta and Copiapó.
#303 – Carlos Sainz (E), 2nd place day / 1st position overall
"I’ve never seen so many stones in my entire life. Almost the entire stage – apart from the last belt of dunes – consisted from gravel and extremely large boulders. Unfortunately we had a tyre failure right at the beginning and we had to use our second spare tyre almost 200 kilometres before the finish. This also meant that we had to approach the final section extremely cautiously. It’s a great relief to be at the front still after this tough and demanding stage.”
Standings after leg 8, Antofagasta (RCH)–Copiapó (RCH); 472/568 km SS 8/total

1    Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E)    Volkswagen Race Touareg 2    5h 06m 50s (2)    31h 28m 13s
2    Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D)    Volkswagen Race Touareg 2    5h 10m 22s (5)    + 14m 35s
3    Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA)    Volkswagen Race Touareg 2    5h 07m 12s (3)    + 22m 28s
4    Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F)    BMW X3 CC    5h 06m 05s (1)    + 2h 02m 25s
5    Guerlain Chicherit/Tina Thörner (F/S)    BMW X3 CC    5h 28m 09s (8) + 2h 24m 13s
6    Krzysztof Holowczyc/Jean-Marc Fortin (PL/B)    Nissan Pick-up    5h 31m 37s (9)    + 2h 45m 45s
7    Carlos Sousa/Matthieu Baumel (P/F)    Mitsubishi Racing Lancer    5h 27m 15s (7)    + 3h 29m 23s
8    Guilherme Spinelli/Filipe Palmeiro (BR/P)    Mitsubishi Racing Lancer    5h 47m 27s (11)    + 4h 04m 12s
9    Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D)    Volkswagen Race Touareg 2    5h 10m 06s (4) + 4h 34m 49s
10    Robby Gordon/Andy Grider (USA/USA)    Hummer    5h 43m 04s (10)    + 5h 01m 24s

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