Sainz grabs another stage win; Gordon loses some ground
2009 Dakar Rally, Argentina-Chile
Stage 8: Valparaiso to La Serena
After a day of much-needed rest, the Dakar Rally competitors tackled their first full stage in Chile and Spaniard Carlos Sainz was again the fastest in the car class. The Volkswagen driver used his skills as a former World Rally Championship driver to negotiate the winding and sometimes slippery mountain roads to finish the special 4 minutes, 2 seconds ahead of his VW teammate Dieter Depping of Germany. American Mark Miller rounded out the VW podium sweep with a third-place result, 4:12 behind Sainz.
"There were a lot of chances to lose the rally today and no chances of making up any time, so it's not the kind of stage built for me," Miller said in a release at dakar.com. "It was perfect for Carlos (Sainz) and the guys that like the rally stuff. At every turn there was a chance to ruin your race. It was difficult for me, but I did better than I expected so it was a success for me."
NASCAR driver Robby Gordon lost another 23 minutes to Sainz in the overall car standing after finishing eighth in his Hummer. Gordon remains fifth in the overall standings, 1 hour, 32 minutes 1 second behind the leader. Giniel De Villiers, who finished fifth Sunday in his Volkwagen, remains second in the overall standings, followed by Miller in third, only 18:05 behind.
In motorbikes, defending Dakar champion Cyril Despres of France won his second stage of the event and gained a little ground on overall leader Marc Coma of Spain, who finished second, but only 1:49 behind. Despres, who had tire problems early in this event, almost met with more disaster late in Sunday's stage.
"Around fifteen kilometers from the finishing line, a donkey suddenly shot out from behind a bunch of cacti," Despres told dakar.com. "I think it was a lucky escape, for him and me."
Despres moved from fifth to third in the bike standings, leap-frogging American Jonah Street, who finds himself fourth overall after a 29th-place result Sunday. Coma's closest rival right now is Frenchman David Fretigne, who is 1 hour, 6 minutes, 28 seconds behind.