Wet, nasty conditions don’t just affect races on track — they can ruin an off-road rally raid’s day, too. In addition to the opening leg of this year’s race getting cancelled, the second and third stages were shortened and today’s third stage was halted for trucks when a landslide destroyed part of it.
While rains make for magnificent splashes, they’re not so great for conditions elsewhere. According to Motorsport.com, the first stage wasn’t cancelled for the thick mud covering much of the roads, but rather, the fact that the medical helicopter was unable to fly in the poor conditions. Over 500 competitors in this year’s race were then redirected via highway to the bivouac near Villa Carlos Paz where they would have headed after the first day of racing was complete.
2015 Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah had this to say to Motorsport.com of the schedule change:
It was absolutely the right decision, this is for sure. Safety must always come first. Although we did not do the stage and instead went on the liaison to Villa Carlos Paz, we had information from the marshals that the conditions were very bad: plenty of mud.
“Plenty of mud” seems to be a running theme this year.
Poor weather also caused the second stage to end at checkpoint 4, shortening much of its special. Dakar’s live-blog described it as a cautious move.
Today, a landslide washed out part of the third stage. The stage had already been shortened due to poor weather conditions. Per Motorsport.com, organizers made the decision to re-route the stage from its original 413 mile course to one that was only 389 miles.
Motorsport.com reports that bikes, quads and cars were able to complete the reworked third stage, however, a wash-out after the second checkpoint meant that the stage had to be paused before the trucks could continue. The trucks were the last group to run on the stage, so the entire race group was paused before being re-routed.
While it may be a bit surprising that so many stages are being affected by wet weather, what isn’t surprising at all is how ridiculously well Sébastien Loeb is doing. So far, Loeb has won both stages in the car division, which isn’t quite as shocking to those of us who remember his utter domination in the World Rally Championship.
Want to follow along for the rest of the race? Tim of Overland & Expedition has a great guide to Dakar coverage here, and if you’re confused about any of the terminology, you can find a great guide to the Dakar-specific terms from truck manufacturer Hino here.
Photo credits: Red Bull Content Pool
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