The Dakar rally is just getting started, and the race is filled with mayhem before any riders even have points on the board.
The rally’s first stage was supposed to take place yesterday, but heavy rains forced the organizers to cancel the racing, after determining the rescue helicopter would be unable to reach injured competitors. Saturday’s special stage (which was to determine starting order) was also canceled after a car left the course and hit 10 spectators, allegedly in an attempt to avoid someone crossing the road. Several competitors, including frontrunners Paulo Goncalves (Honda) and Laia Sanz (KTM) even suffered engine trouble on Saturday.
For a while, Stage 2 was also in doubt, with unfavourable weather threatening the second day’s racing, and possibly even further into the week. However, earlier rumours of cancellation seem to be wrong.
Sunday might have seen a canceled stage, but riders were still required to take their bikes through 500 kms of downpour, from Rosario to Villa Carlos Paz, so they didn’t escape the rain. Factory teams weren’t allowed to truck their machines, so everyone from the lowly Malle Moto class to the high-dollar factory bikes all had to suffer together. It doesn’t look like much fun.
Today, after modifying the stage, Dakar organizers say motorcycles will have to cover roughly 354 kms. And with some of the race’s stars already suffering mechanical trouble, we’re sure to see an interesting race over the day.