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Former Dakar Rally winner Nasser al-Attiyah was a relieved man on Sunday as, despite getting stuck when torrential rain brought chaos to the eighth stage of the 2012 Dakar from Salta to Tucuman in Argentina, he remained in second place.
Race stewards decided to credit all the cars that were unable to finish the stage due to flash floods with the same time as the last competitor who finished before the stage was abandoned.
This revised result keeps the 42-year-old Qatari and his Buggy in second place, trailing France's defending champion Stephane Peterhansel (Mini) by just 3min 14sec.
The race had been stopped at the 88km mark when a riverbed on the course was suddenly flooded.
At that time, Al-Attiyah was 13sec ahead of America's Robby Gordon with Peterhansel three minutes behind.
But as the storms worsened, Al-Attiyah got stuck and then watched several of his rivals disappear into the distance.
Guerlain Chicherit reached the finish in the fastest time with Peterhansel - a 10-time Dakar winner with six victories on a motorocycle and four times in a car - more than 12 minutes behind
Al-Attiyah's car, having been successfully pulled out of the mud and driven to the stage finish in Tucuman, was given an intensive inspection by his crew during Sunday's rest day.
Al-Attiyah said the stage had been going well for them until torrents of water prevented them from crossing.
“The stage was going very well for us and we had the lead until the conditions on the stage changed,” said Al-Attiyah, who won Olympic bronze for shooting in London in 2012.
“It was raining and lots of water was coming down from the mountains that made the rivers impossible to cross. We decided we just had to stop and we called the race organisers to let them know there was no way to cross the river. They told us then that they were in the process of stopping the race.
“It was our plan to come to the rest day with the lead but sometimes we must accept what will be.”
“There's still a long way to go at this race and after the rest day I will start the following stage as the sixth car. This will give me a great chance to make up some time in this race.”
The revised results placed South African works Toyota driver Giniel de Villiers fifth on Stage eight, and he retained his third place in the overall standings.
He said on Sunday: “It was quite a challenging stage! It went well for us. We started fifth and overtook Nasser when he got a puncture. Then we reached a river which was totally flooded. It was impossible to cross. We heard from the organisers that the rest of the stage was neutralised and that the result would be taken as at Check Point 2. A pity, as we were having a good run and would probably have been able to make up a bit more time by the end.”
David Casteu took the overall lead in the rain-hit motorcycling section after Yamaha team mate and longtime leader Olivier Pain endured a miserable eighth stage.
Joan Barreda Bort claimed the 183km timed run in 2hr 7min 26sec, ahead of America's Johnny Campbell, who was 7min 4sec behind, with Slovakia's Ivan Jakes in third, 7min 57sec off the pace.
Torrential rain led to the early part of the planned stage, which had been set for 492km, being cancelled.
Casteu has a 9min 26sec overall lead over defending champion Cyril Despres and an 11min 16sec advantage over Portugal's Ruben Faria.
Pain finished more than 30 minutes off the pace, dropping him to fifth overall, 16min 10sec behind Casteu in the race for the title.
Pain was one of a batch of riders who got lost at the 122km stage.
Casteu said: “A huge navigational success - I'm over the moon because it's difficult to ride at the front while attacking and keeping your bearings, navigating.
“I was able to keep my cool while everyone else was spinning around, but I stayed focused and was the first across the line.” - AFP
REVISED RESULTS - CARS - STAGE 8
1 Guerlain Chicherit (France) SMG - 1hr 55min 06sec
2 Orlando Terranova (Argentina) BMW +4min02
3 Robbie Gordon (United States) Hummer +5min17
4 Stephane Peterhansel (France) Mini +12min15
5 Giniel de Villiers (South Africa) Toyota +12min15
6 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) Buggy +12min15
7 Erik Wevers (Netherlands) Ford +12min15
8 Leonid Novistkiy (Russia) Mini +12min15
9 Carlos Sousa (Portugal) GWM +12min15
10 Lucio Ezequiel Alvaraez (Argentina) Toyota +12min15
OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 8
1 Stephane Peterhansel (France) Mini - 18hrs 31min 04sec
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) Buggy +3min14
3 Giniel de Villiers (South Africa) Toyota +44min03
4 Leonid Novistkiy (Russia) Mini +48min54
5 Guerlain Chicherit (France) SMG +1hr 04min50
6 Ronan Chabot (France) SMG +1hr 34min51
7 Nani Roma (Spain) Mini +1hr 38min27
8 Orlando Terranova (Argentina) BMW +1hr 58min25
9 Bernard Errandonea (Andorra) SMG +2hrs 02min18
10 Carlos Sousa (Portugal) GWM +2hrs 07min29