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Race to Dakar duo halfway to Dakar - January 7th 2006

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    Race to Dakar riders Simon Pavey and Matt Hall have successfully finished the eighth day of the 2006 Euromilhões Lisbon to Dakar Rally to arrive at the destination of the Rest Day at Nouakchott. Since the start of the Rally on 31 December 2005, competitors who have made it this far have raced over 4,900 km from Portugal, through Spain, Morocco and Mauritania and endured some of the most punishing terrain imaginable.

    Today's eighth stage was 568 km and included a 508 km special stage. On the first part of the special, the windy route crossed canyons and wadis and many competitors made navigational errors where they lost time. Then after a series of zigzags, competitors raced over sand dunes to reach the destination of Nouakchott - where there will be an official Rest Day for teams to work on vehicles and riders enjoy a well-deserved rest. Competitors tough enough to make it to Dakar, will face another seven days of racing where the terrain and navigational tests are guaranteed to be even more challenging.

    The Race to Dakar duo of Pavey and Hall reached the end of today's demanding stage by riding their BMW F650 GS Dakar motorcycles for almost 12 hours to get from Atâr to Nouakchott. Hall finished today's stage in 105th place and Pavey in 106th. In the overall Rally ranking, Hall is in 97th place and Pavey 100th.

    Frenchman David Casteu captured his first ever success on a Dakar by winning today's stage in a time of 5 hrs and 55 mins. Casteu rode with his injured team-mate and current title-holder Cyril Despres who finished the stage in third position. 25-year-old American Chris Blais was second today and secured his best ever performance in a Dakar.

    Spaniard Marc Coma still leads the 2006 Euromilhões Lisbon to Dakar Rally, followed by fellow Spanish rider Isidre Esteve Pujol, and Chilean rider Carlo De Gavardo is now third. Mick Extance was the first Brit to finish today's eighth stage in 21st position and is now placed 36th overall. Fellow Brit, Nick Plumb finished the stage on his BMW F650 GS Dakar in 80th position and is 67th overall.

    Fellow Race to Dakar rider Charley Boorman was forced to retire from the Rally after crashing and breaking his hand on day five of the event. Charley will continue to follow the rally to support his fellow Race to Dakar team-mates and assist with the further production of the Race to Dakar television series, which is due to be aired on Sky in October.

    For more information about the Race to Dakar team, enthusiasts can visit