The rolling sand dunes of Chile’s Atacama Desert will be absent from the 2016 running of the highlight of the rally racing calendar. The decision comes after severe flooding in the north of the South American country led the government to decide they will not be in a position to support the race.
A key part of the race since its South American relocation, the country has hosted nearly forty stages of the race in recent years, including two final days in 2013 and 2014.
However, the logistics-heavy race has required major support from the armed forces in recent years, but with severe floods killing hundreds and leaving thousands homeless, the government has re-prioritised that support.
Chilean Minister of Sport Natalia Riffo explained: “The country must adapt to the reality that our countrymen in the north are experiencing today. The government's current priority is to help this region overcome and organize relief help. Then, we will take another look at hosting the Dakar in 2017, as we have each year.”
Dakar Director Etienne Lavigne added: “We have carefully followed the situation and hope that despite these disasters, the region of the Atacama Desert and the cities that were affected regain their vigour. But the many reconnaissance trips that are necessary, in collaboration with the many Chilean administrative services, cannot be carried out according to the calendar we have planned.”
The final route will be unveiled in Paris on April 16th.