Antofagasta - Defending champion Marc Coma of Spain dealt a major blow to arch-rival Cyril Despres in the eighth stage of the Dakar Rally on Monday.
In the motorcycle section of the prestigious offroad race, Coma won the stage between Copiapo and Antofagasta, in northern Chile. Frenchman Despres lost a lot of time after getting stuck in mud and ended in 14th place, 17:20 behind Coma.
"I was lucky not to lose too much time in the mud and then I saw I could open a gap, so I attacked really hard," Coma said, in comments posted on the Dakar Rally website.
Overall, the day's difference was enough for Coma to take over the lead that had previously been Despres's. The Spaniard now tops the overall standings, with Despres in second place 09:32 behind. The two KTM bikers have won every edition of the Dakar Rally since 2005.
On the day after the race's only rest day, Stephane Peterhansel of France defended his lead among the cars, while US driver Robby Gordon climbed to second place overall ahead of Pole Krysztof Holowczyc.
Nani Roma of Spain won the stage, with a five-second lead over Gordon. Holowczyc ended 02:04 slower than Roma, with Peterhansel - the man who has won the most editions of the Dakar Rally, with six wins on a bike and three in a car - 05:38 behind the Spaniard. Defending champion Nasser al-Attiyah of Qatar could not pursue his recovery further and lost 08:09 to Roma.
In the overall standings, Peterhansel's Mini remains the car to beat. Gordon now trails him by 07:36 in his Hummer, and Mini's Holowczyc by 07:48.
The eighth stage of the Dakar Rally took drivers from Copiapo to Antofagasta on a 686km stage, with 477kms timed, in the longest special of the 2012 Dakar Rally.
Dakar Rally results on Monday after the 477km eighth stage from Copiapo:
1. Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) 5hr 03min 52sec, 2. Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) at 7min, 3. Helder Rodrigues (POR/Yamaha) 7:10, 4. Joan Barreda Bort (ESP/Husqvarna) 8:44, 5. Stefan Svitko (SVK/KTM) 9:09, 6. Cyril Despres (FRA/KTM) 9:14, 7. Juan Pedrero Garcia (ESP/KTM) 10:31, 8. David Casteu (FRA/Yamaha) 12:02, 9. Jordi Viladoms (ESP/KTM) 12:35, 10. Johnny Aubert (FRA/KTM) 13:50.
1. Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) 23hr 24min 18sec, 2. Cyril Despres (FRA/KTM) at 1min 26sec, 3. Helder Rodrigues (POR/Yamaha) 49:01, 4. David Casteu (FRA/Yamaha) 1hr 09:52, 5. Paulo Goncalves (POR/Husqvarna) 1hr 12:11, 6. Jordi Viladoms (ESP/KTM) 1hr 12:27, 7. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP/KTM) 1hr 15:35, 8. Stefan Svitko (SVK/KTM) 1hr 18:40, 9. Juan Pedrero Garcia (ESP/KTM) 1hr 26:31, 10. Olivier Pain (FRA/Yamaha) 1hr 41:53.
Dakar Rally results on Monday after the 477km eighth stage from Copiapo to here:
1. Nani Roma/Michel Perin (ESP/FRA/Mini) 4hr 25min 44sec, 2. Robby Gordon/Johnny Campbell (USA/Hummer) at 5sec, 3. Krzysztof Holowczyc/Jean-Marc Fortin (POL/BEL/Mini) 2min 4sec, 4. Stephane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA/Mini) 5:38, 5. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Lucas Cruz (QAT/ESP/Hummer) 8:09, 6. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (RSA/GER/Toyota) 9:16, 7. Carlos Sousa/Jean-Pierre Garcin (POR/FRA/Great Wall) 16:17, 8. Leonid Novitzkiy/Andreas Schulz (RUS/GER/Mini) 18:45, 9. Ricardo Leal Dos Santos/Paulo Fiuza (POR/Mini) 20:58, 10. Duncan Vos/Robert Howie (RSA/Toyota) 22:06.
1. Stephane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA/Mini) 20hr 04min 15sec, 2. Robby Gordon/Johnny Campbell (USA/Hummer) at 7min 36sec, 3. Krzysztof Holowczyc/Jean-Marc Fortin (POL/BEL/Mini) 7:48, 4. Nani Roma/Michel Perin (ESP/FRA/Mini) 12:27, 5. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (RSA/GER/Toyota) 37:45, 6. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Lucas Cruz (QAT/ESP/Hummer) 45:25, 7. Leonid Novitzkiy/Andreas Schulz (RUS/GER/Mini) 1hr 7min 33sec, 8. Carlos Sousa/Jean-Pierre Garcin (POR/FRA/Great Wall) 1hr 23:29, 9. Lucio Alvarez/Ronnie Graue (ARG/Toyota) 2hr 04:15, 10. Erik Van Loon/Harmen Scholtalbers (NED/Mitsubishi) 2hr 19:04