The Dakar Rally has again been interrupted by extreme weather with the 406km long ‘‘Super Belen’’ ninth stage being cancelled overnight as storms across the north-west of Argentina have left roads and villages damaged.
The rain has arrived to break a long drought in the region and organisers reported a major landslide near the village of Volcan has blocked part of the route. The event medical services have been deployed to assist civilians in the region.
An alternative (non-competitive) liaison section was set to take competitors and support crews from Salta to the city of Chilecito where they are regrouping to prepare for Thursday’s stage.
With no competition overnight the rally standings are unchanged with nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb leading the Car category by 1m 38s from Peugeot team-mate and defending champion Stephane Peterhansel (France).
It has also reduced the opportunities for the chasing Motorcycle racers to cut into the 20m 58s leading margin of KTM rider Sam Sunderland (GB).
Earlier in the fortnight-long rally, stage six had been cancelled and modifications were made to the route of both stage seven and eight to avoid the worst affected areas.
With three stages left to run the Dakar Rally survivors now number 108 motorcycles, 55 cars, 43 trucks, 22 quads and four UTV competitors.
The remaining itinerary — if it runs unaffected — will see competitors travel 751km from Chilecito to San Juan on Thursday with a 449km special stage.
On Friday the route from San Juan to Rio Cuarto is 795km with a 292km special stage. Saturday’s finale from Rio Cuarto to Buenos Aires is 786km with a sprint stage of just 64km to settle the final standings.