Dakar – Dakar motorcycle – stage 1: bad start in Buenos Aires … –

Dakar motorcycle – stage 1: bad start in Buenos Aires…

Dakar - Dakar moto - stage 1: bad start in Buenos Aires ... -

The 38th edition of the Dakar has a painful start with a car leaving the road leading to several serious injuries during the prologue, then the cancellation of the first stage due to heavy stormy rains.

And it’s not over: the second stage, started today, is cut in half

La had a painful start with a car leaving the road causing several serious injuries during the prologue, then the cancellation of the first stage due to heavy stormy rains. And it’s not over: the second stage, started today, is cut in half because of the weather !

A bitter-tasting prologue…

Everything started – badly – just a few hours after the start of the prologue, given in the outskirts of Buenos Aires (Argentina) … For the record, this start made up of ten kilometers of timed special and a connection of 300 km is used to determine the order of the competitors during the "real" start given the next day during the first stage.

At km 6.6, car 360 piloted by a Chinese crew leaves the road in a long straight line and hits several spectators, injuring ten, three of them in serious condition..

Four helicopters and five medical vehicles of the organization (ASO) as well as ten local ambulances go immediately on site.

Among the injured whose life-threatening prognosis, a father and his 10-year-old son are transported to the Austral hospital in Pilar, where they are then assured that they are in a "stable state with favorable evolution".

The condition of a third patient unfortunately worsened suddenly during the night from Saturday to Sunday. He will be transferred to Pergamino hospital and "his condition remains worrying," the organization said. Finally, another spectator was transferred to the Allemana hospital in Buenos Aires with a fractured femur, while "the other patients show no aggravation, in particular a pregnant woman who remains under simple surveillance: some of them have regained their home ", reports the ASO.

"On the maps we are preparing, the public risk is assessed. Yesterday (Saturday, Editor’s note), the danger was at 3, the maximum level," said the director of the event, Etienne Lavigne. "The accident which involves several victims is the major risk. In motor sports, especially in rallying, risks are taken into account". 

Etienne Lavigne will not expand further, but the message is clear: zero risk does not exist in motorsports…

This will not prevent the detractors of the rally – who see the Dakar as a futile, polluting and dangerous event – from calling it to account and shouting loud and clear that additional precautions should have been taken if the area was deemed to be so "accident prone" "…

Barreda and Fario already neck and neck

If the car prologue was obviously canceled following this accident, the bikers, who left just before, finished their route without a hitch. Spain’s Joan Barreda (Honda) and Portuguese Ruben Faria (Husqvarna) arrived wheel to wheel, setting the same time just ahead of Portuguese Helder Rodrigues on his official Yamaha WRF450. 

Three of the most experienced and fastest motorcycle riders on the podium: nothing illogical at this stage. On the other hand, the fourth place of Adrien Van Beveren, reconverted in the rally-raid after his two victories in Le Touquet, constitutes a small (and good!) Surprise. Even if the special was only 11 km long, it’s promising ! 

The favorite Toby Price, leader of the KTM armada only signs the 16th fastest time, at 18 seconds.

Disappointment also for Laia Sanz, moved from Honda to KTM, who will start from 116th place in the first stage scheduled between Rosario and Villa Carlos Paz.

The rain continues to shower the atmosphere

Sunday morning, it is therefore in a rather heavy atmosphere that the competitors are preparing to set off for the first "real" stage, of which the timed special covers some 600 km. Morale does not improve with regard to the weather conditions: violent thunderstorms and very heavy rains are raging in the area, making it impossible to deploy the safety device (especially the rescue helicopters and the relay plane which provides radio links). 

"The Dakar does not stop when it rains, but when it cannot ensure the usual safety arrangements around the rally", sighs resignedly Etienne Lavigne, who had initially decided to postpone the start for a few hours in hoping for a lull.

The improvement did not occur, leading to the outright cancellation of the stage at 9:30 a.m. local time.

The previous cancellation dates back to, when snow blocked the crossing of the Andes Cordillera between Argentina and Chile. 

Yesterday afternoon, all the competitors wisely joined Villa Carlos Paz in a procession, crossing their fingers that the situation would improve before the start of the second stage towards Termas de Rio Hondo…

Unfortunately, the bad weather was still there this morning, forcing the organizers to slightly delay the start of this second stage, 450 km long..

Faced with the still worrying weather conditions, the organization will then let it be known that the stage is shortened "by more than half" in order to "guarantee the safety of the competitors".

In accordance with the order defined by the prologue, Joan Barreda Bort will be the first to set off on his official CRF450 Rally, followed by Ruben Faria (Husqvarna) and Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha).

The day will end at checkpoint 4 (out of 8 initially planned). To follow naturally on MNC: stay connected !

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