Stage 8 of the 2020 Dakar Rally (474km Wadi Al Dawasir loop) proved to be a challenging one, especially for the stage openers (Cars category) as there were no bike tracks to follow (Stage 8 had stood cancelled for the Bikes & Quads categories following the tragic demise of Hero MotoSports rider Paulo Goncalves on Sunday). Consequently, the overall rally leaders (Cars category) saw their time margins shrink significantly, accompanied by a drop in stage classifications.
In the Cars category, Mathieu Serradori (SRT Racing), Fernando Alonso (Toyota Gazoo Racing) and Orlando Terranova (X-Raid MINI JCW) emerged as the top finishers of Stage 8. While this was Serradori's maiden stage win, two-time F1 champion's second place is his best stage finish in the competition yet, having previously been classified no higher than fourth. Meanwhile, overall rally leader Carlos Sainz (Bahrain JCW X-Raid) struggled a fair bit and gave up over 19 minutes as a result of his 15th place stage finish. He struggled to find the pace right from the start of the stage. Sainz' closest competitors, Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) and teammate Stephane Peterhansel recorded marginally better stage finishes, in 11th & 9th place, respectively.
However, as Sainz only gave up a little over three minutes to Al-Attiyah and Peterhansel, he's managed to keep his overall lead intact and in the overall rankings, is still ahead of second-placed Al-Attiyah by over 6 minutes. Peterhansel continues to hold on to third place overall.
Also, Indian rally outfit Hero MotoSports has officially withdrawn from the remainder of the 2020 Dakar Rally, following the death of its rider Paulo Goncalves. With two of its riders (Joaquim Rodrigues & Sebastian Buhler) already retired from the event due to mechanical failures (though still running under the Dakar Experience Class), Indian rider CS Santosh was the lone Hero rider still in contention for the overall classification. However, the team has collectively decided that they need some space to recover from the shock of Goncalves' death. Therefore, the decision has been announced with everybody's best interests in mind.
Overall classification after Stage 8 (Cars):
1st - Carlos Sainz Sr. (Bahrain JCW X-Raid)
2nd - Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing)
3rd - Stephane Peterhansel (Bahrain JCW X-Raid)