Opening Stage of Dakar Rally 2016 cancelled on safety grounds
Ford’s Xavier Pons forced to wait until Monday to tackle first Dakar stage
The 2016 Dakar Rally fell victim to the weather on Sunday and Ford Ranger driver Xavier ‘Xevi’ Pons was not able to start his first ever timed Dakar test on the sinuous mountainous special stage between Rosario and Villa Carlos Paz in western Argentina.
Incessant heavy rain, thunderstorms and standing water forced race officials to originally delay the start of the day’s action, where Spaniard Pons should have started the special from third position on the road in the car category behind Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke and fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz.
The rain did stop in time for the special to begin, but race director Etienne Lavigne took the decision to cancel the day’s competitive action to guarantee the safety of the competitors, largely because safety helicopters were not able to over fly the competitive area. Crews were, therefore, instructed to travel to the overnight halt in Villa Carlos Paz at road speeds on the course originally reserved for assistance vehicles.
Pons is driving a Ford Ranger run under a joint venture between DMAS South Racing and Esponsorama and is being co-driven by Argentine navigator Ricardo Torlaschi. Chilean Daniel Mas Valdes drives a second Ford Ranger run by DMAS South Racing and navigated by Juan Pablo Latrach.
Support for Pons’s Dakar challenge comes from Air Europa, Fundación Incorpora Deportistas Solidarios, Avintia Grupo, Power Electronics, KP Sport, Galfer, Jjuan Faura, King Regal, Las Rozas Cuidad Europea del Deporte 2016 and the Palladium Hotel Group.
South Racing also has support from Rudy Project, OMP, TW Steel, Gold Nutrition, Michelin, MotoGP Argentina, Argentina Tourism and Ecomac.
Tomorrow (Monday), teams continue their push through western Argentina and tackle a mammoth 510km special stage over fast tracks and remote wastelands between Villa Carlos Paz and Termas de Río Hondo.
The second longest day of the entire event also features road liaison sections of 336km in a total route of 846km. The special heads west out of the overnight halt, skirts the Sierra de Córdoba mountain range and finishes to the north of the Salinas de Ambargasta (salt lake). A second liaison then guides crews through the Santiago del Estero Province to the bivouac at the Autodromo in Termas de Río Hondo.