January 09, 2014
Szalay Balázs and Bunkoczi László started todays special from Akjoukt in 19th place after yesterdays withdrawal from stage 8. Classified 23rd after pulling out of the stage, Szalay, along with the 13 other entrants who failed to complete the course, was awarded a time of 18 hours 25 minutes for stage 8. The control time was a mere 13 hours, 3 minutes and 38 seconds behind the impressive Frenchman Sabatier who won the stage in his buggy in 5 hours, 21 minutes and 22 seconds
Naturally that harmed his posution in the overall standings and Team Opel Dakar fell 10 places to lie in 17th position overall, some 18 hours, 1 minute and 26 seconds behind the overall leader, Jean Louis Schlesser. Although he only finished 6th in yesterday’s special, Schlesser looks comfortable at the top of the leaderboard with 1hr and 10 minutes separating him from the Toyota of Jaques Loomans in 2nd.
Todays stage started well with Szalay pressing on and overtaking some of the back markers. However a navigation error saw them miss the second checkpoint and this was compounded when they folowed in the tracks of Schlesser and other who left the course later on. However, whilst all the other teams corrected their course and headed back to the stage route, unfortunately, Balázs and László headed further and further off copurse. This could be because they encountered problems and wanted to avoid difficult terrain. We wil find out soon. However, they missed another checkpoint and after vaguely following the route of a public road to the end of the special, they were forvced to double back on themselves to actually pass the finish line.
At present, in the provisiponal timings, they are credited with 11th place in the special, 3 hours, 52 minutes and 48 seconds behind stage winner and overall leader, Schlesser. This places them 11th also overall, nearly 6 hours behind the bugggy of 10th placed Frenchman, Yves Fromont.
There are no pictures from today’s special yet but we added some from stage 7 which havent been shared yet.