Marc Coma overturned Cyril Despres’ stranglehold on the 2012 Dakar by winning stage eight of the event – his 20th stage victory of his distinguished career. Coma led from start to finish to end the long 477km timed special with a time of 5h 3m 52s.
Coma said: “It was a very long special. 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. This is my 20th special victory. That’s a nice figure but it’s not winning the special that count, it’s winning the race. And I know there is still a long week of racing ahead.”
Despres saw his 7m 48s lead going into the stage disappear within minutes of the start of the stage when he got bogged down in deep mud. The Frenchman lost a massive 11m 55s to Coma and slumped to 69th position at the first check point of the day, but later appealed to the organisers to re-instate the time he lost as the hazard was not marked on the road book and a detour was later made for competitors to avoid the area.
Despres ultimately ended the day in sixth place meaning that he has now slipped to second position in the overall standings just 1m 26s behind Coma.
Team Red Bull KTM rider Ruben Faria secured second position ahead of Yamaha man Helder Rodrigues.
Irishman Stan Watt claimed 59th on the stage to move up to 41st in the overall standings. Lone Brit Tobias Younger has finished stage eight and sits 117th in the overall standings.