Dakar Rally Stage 1 Canceled

Jean Turner | January 3, 2016

After yesterday’s prologue, riders were looking forward to getting the 38th Dakar Rally officially underway with the opening stage, but the race is off to a rough start after organizers were forced to cancel Stage 1 due to bad weather.

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Heavy downpours, rising river levels and lightning storms caused the cancelation of Stage 1 in the 2016 Dakar Rally. Photography by Honda HRC

A heavy summer downpour caused flooding on the course, and saw quickly rising river levels, but the main reason Dakar director Etienne Lavigne had to cancel the stage was due to the fact that helicopters and support crews were grounded on account of the thick low clouds and a lightning storm. Without being able to ensure safety of the racers, the stage was canceled.

“Everyone was looking forward to the first big stage of the Dakar 2016,” commented Honda HRC Team Manager Wolfgang Fischer. “But 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. It was the right decision for sure, but it’s not nice to lose a stage. With respect to safety, compliments to the race organizers for making a decision not to put the riders at risk.”

Organizers selected a route for the motorcycles and quads to move in a convoy from Rosario to Villa Carlos Paz, where Stage 2 will commence in the morning. Stage 2 includes the longest special of the 2016 edition at 279 miles (450km), with a total of 488 miles (786km) to travel in the stage.

The Dakar Rally is off to an even worse start for the car category, as yesterday’s prologue was suspended after an accident involving one of the competitors veering off the course and injuring multiple spectators. Serious injuries were reported but no one was killed. As a result, starting times for the cars were assigned by race officials.

More on the car incident: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/02/motorsport/dakar-rally-accident/

Jean Turner | Contributor A former staffer at Cycle News, Turner continues to contribute to the website and magazine as a columnist and someone we can count on to whip up a few thousand words on an off-road race when needed.