Dakar 2018, Stage 9 – Rain stops play
Route: Tupiza – Salta
Words: Georgia Wells
Stage 9 of the 2018 Dakar Rally was cancelled due to extreme weather conditions. Sporting Director and 5-time Dakar winner, Marc Coma, explained…
“There has been heavy rain in the area for a few days, and this looks set to continue. There is now the added risk of thunderstorms and potential flooding. Of course we don’t like to cancel a stage or shorten the rally but we have to think of competitor safety above everything else. This year we have a great and spectacular race. We can afford to lose one day to benefit the safety of our riders and drivers.”
All the competitors were transferred by road across the border to Argentina and into the Salta bivouac. The cancellation also allowed some assistance crews who had struggled in the conditions to catch up and regroup.
For the riders, whoa are embroiled in an extremely close battle for victory – the Top % covered by 8 minutes – the stage cancellation comes as half relief and half disappointment. But nevertheless, all are seemingly grateful for the chance to refresh and recharge following the grueling Marathon, and ahead of the final six days of intensive racing.
Tuesday’s Stage 10 from Salta to Belen will be an arduous 797 km trek through dunes initially, and riverbeds to finish. The route will take the competitors close to that of the assistance vehicles and for the first time, the crews will be allowed to step in and help on the stage if needs be. If the weather stays unsettled the last part of the stage may be neutralized or, if not, the riders could find themselves in at the deep end…