If Repsol KTM’s Marc Coma seemed in control of the Dakar Rally before yesterday’s day of rest, then he is totally in control after today’s eighth stage and the demise of his closest competitor.
Coma not only won today’s stage between Atar and Tichit, but he also opened up a 54-minute lead on his closest competition after his main rival prior to today, Isidre Esteve, suffered a broken gearbox on his Gauloises KTM 690.
Esteve suffered a similar fate to his teammate Cyril Despres, though Despres has recovered from the transmission problems to hold down second overall. Still, he is 54 minutes behind Coma.
Coma beat Despres in today’s stage with Pal Anders Ullevalseter finishing third.
Red Bull KTM’s Chris Blais finished sixth in today’s stage and jumped back up to fourth in the overall standings with Esteve’s problems dropping him out of contention.