Opening Dakar stage cancelled after heavy rain
The first stage of the 38th Dakar was cancelled due to extreme weather on the route.
The 2016 Dakar didn’t start in the best possible way. The competitors have already travelled 1000kms and raced just 10. The 4:00 am early start for the first bikes was not rewarded. Thunderstorms in the area of the first special forced the organisers to postpone the start of 30 minutes and then of other additional 30 minutes hoping in an improvement of the weather conditions. Meantime the Organisation was monitoring the track conditions as the rain had turned parts of the special into torrents of water. In addition extremely thick low clouds kept aircraft grounded, making it impossible for them to guarantee the safety of the competitors. As a result, race director Étienne Lavigne decided to cancel the stage.
The competitors headed to Villa Carlos Paz under link section rules after the decision was announced. Motorcycles and quads moved in a convoy, while cars and trucks were allowed to travel on their own.
“Rain and thunderstorms were expected and it had rained a lot in the area in the past days, included overnight, which made parts of the special path into torrents of water”, said the Honda factory rider Joan Barreda, who after having set the best time in the 11 km Prologue was ready to open the track. “I was looking forward to the first big stage of the Dakar 2016 from Rosario to Carlos Paz, which was supposed to be 227 kilometres through the winding tracks of the mountains. I was not particularly worried because we were expecting a fast timed section with no special navigation problems. But finally the organization decided to cancel the stage due to really bad weather conditions. We were facing a lot of rain, strong winds and torrential floods in the road section. They were also expecting a lot of river crossings during the stage”, said the Spaniard. Team mate Paulo Goncalves, instead, was quiet relieved from the decision, as he suffered another electrical problem already in the liaison.
“Safety comes first”, said Race Director Etienne Lavigne, “more rain is expected during the stage so all the Organization vehicles are already on tomorrow’s stage to give us precise and always updated information and to inspect the terrain as the soil can change a lot. We are already studying alternative solutions like postponing the start or reducing the stage of at least 150 km. Bad weather is expected also tomorrow afternoon and then it should improve”.