The 38th Dakar Rally is officially past the halfway point with Monday’s Stage 7 now in the books.
The Rally, originally scheduled for 8,782 kilometers (5,456.88 miles), concludes with Stage 12 on Saturday.
But Monday’s stage was different than what was originally planned, as weather forced the route to be changed due to rain in Bolivia. In so doing, the overall length of the race was also extended by 179 kilometers to 8,972 kilometers (5,574 miles).
Calling it an “unprecedented” change, rally organizers combined elements of what was originally scheduled for Stage 6 and 7 after Stage 5 was cut in half due to rain and Stage 6 was completely cancelled, also because of rain.
Per a statement from the ASO, organizers of the Rally, “Following the cancellation of Stage 6 on the eve of the rest day (Sunday), persistent bad weather conditions forced the race directors to change the course of Stage 7 from La Paz to Uyuni. A new course was designed and a new road book was drafted during the rest day.”
Stage 7 was originally planned for a 622-kilometer route from La Paz to the Uyuni Salt Flats.
But with the changes, the new route was lengthened to the longest section of the Rally, 801 kilometers, taking borrowing from parts of a 400 kilometer link scheduled for Stage 6, parts of the originally planned 240-kilometer route for Stage 7 and a special 161 kilometer bridge link between the two segments.
Here’s how Stage 7 played out:
The Peugeots of Stephane Peterhansel and Sebastien Loeb took the top two spots in the Cars class, with Giniel De Villiers taking third.
The ending was the same as halfway, with Peterhansel, Loeb and De Villiers 1-2-3.
Peterhansel and fellow French co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret remain in the overall lead in Cars.
As for motorcycles, American Ricky Brabec captured the stage after overall race leader Sam Sunderland inexplicably stopped 38 kilometers into the route. There has been no word yet on what prompted Sunderland to come to a halt.
Even though Sunderland stopped, he resumed on the day and ended third, and remains the overall class leader.
In the quads, Sergey Karyakin took the top spot in the overall Rally with a top performance in Stage 7, followed by Axel Dutrie and Ignacio Casale.
And in Trucks, it was a three-way sweep by Russian drivers Dmitry Sotnikov, Rusian Akhmadeev and Igor Leonov.
However, Gerard De Rooy remains the overall leader.
Here’s a few other tidbits via social media as we prepare for Stage 8 on Tuesday, which leaves Bolivia and heads into Argentina – the route going from Uyuni to Salta:
And then there was even a special visitor for Stage 7: world windsurfing champion Robby Naish.