Stages Seven and Eight of the Dakar rally were filled with action, and tragedy.
French rider Thomas Bourgin was killed on Day Seven when he collided with a Chilean police car traveling in the opposite direction; we haven’t seen many other details about the crash yet. He was 25 years old, and in 68th place at the end of Stage Six.
Marc Coma’s replacement, KTM rider Kurt Caselli (a standout at the Baja 1000 in 2012), took the win on Day Seven, proving he can earn his keep at the big rally.
His KTM teammates also fared pretty well, except for Cyril Despres, who suffered a huge time setback after he ran into mechanical problems, finishing 34th for the day. Chaleco Lopez took second place for the day, and Olivier Pain finished third, which was good enough to keep him in first place.
Day Eight started with half the first stage canceled due to heavy rain. Joan Barreda took the stage win for Husqvarna, with Johnny Campbell in second place on a Honda. That’s Campbell’s best finish, by far.
David Casteau finished in sixth place, which was enough at the end of the day to move him into first place. Despres finished 11th, leaving him in second overall. However, Despres was handed a 15-minute penalty for an engine change (they took the motor from Polish rider Marek Dabrowski’s bike), so he was bumped down the list to sixth at the start of today’s Stage Nine (Sunday was the Dakar’s rest day).
Canadian Patrick Beule is in 81st place in the scratch rankings at the start of Stage Nine.