With the 2004 Dakar Rally approaching the halfway point, the American Red Bull KTM Dakar Rally team members are moving up in positions.Scot Harden finished the difficult Stage 8 with the sixth best time, only 31 minutes and 32 seconds behind the leader and is now running in ninth overall. Paul Krause finished in twentieth position and is ranked twentieth overall, while Larry Roeseler finished twenty-fifth and is ranked twenty-fourth overall.Stage 8 of the Telefonica Dakar 2004 was of course half as long as yesterday’s, but many thought it was a lot harder. The 393km trip from Atar to Tidjikja proved to be extremely technical and treacherous to many riders. A Dakar stage in Mauritania is rarely a walk in the park. With strong winds and soft sand, it becomes a real nightmare!The main drama in the bike race happened in the opening 40kms while the main favorites were looking for a way out of the wadi. That’s where, Cyril Despres, first overall before the start, lost his leadership. "It was the worst day of my life. I had problems with my glasses so I decided to stop but fell at a very slow pace. Nothing serious except that I pulled the GPS connection with my knee. I couldn’t reconnect it, so I got lost. Each time I saw a KTM rider I would follow him, but each time we got lost again. That lasted 50kms. Because of that, I ran out of fuel, 1.2km from refueling. Luckily, someone helped me reconnect the GPS and gave me fuel."By the finish line, the Frenchman had lost 1h14min19 to Joan Roma. The Spaniard took advantage of a late starting position to clinch his second special of the rally, ahead of Jean Brucy and Richard Sainct. In fourth spot and far behind came Fabrizio Meoni at 25min50. The overall lead now belongs to Roma with an 8min16 advantage on Sainct and 14min25 on Brucy. "I’m delighted to take the lead in the overall, but everyone knows that it doesn’t mean anything,” admitted the Catalan. "Every leader has a problem the following day. It happened to Esteve yesterday, now to Despres!"
The next stage from Tidjikja to Nema will be 739km. It is said to be the most historic route of the race, not to mention the longest and hardest part of the course.
You can catch the Rally on Speed TV at 6:30pm during the week, with weekend coverage at 7:30pm. Speed TV will run Dakar marathons from 5-8 on Saturday afternoons January 10th and January 17th. On January 19th they show a recap of entire race.
*All times are Eastern