Dakar 2018, Stage 12 (cancelled) report: Safety first
Route: Fiambala – San Juan (Marathon Pt.2)
Words: Georgia Wells.
For the second time this year a stage has been cancelled.
The second half of the Marathon pairing was originally to be run over 723km from Fiambala to San Juan. The fast dirt tracks were to be coupled with high mountain passes and this proved a dangerous combination as bad weather closed in.
Rally organisers Etienne Lavigne and Marc Coma initially took the decision to cancel the first section of the stage due to low cloud which made it impossible for the medical helicopters to fly.
The riders were told the second half of the stage would go ahead, so they prepared their roadbooks and readied themselves for a long night in the extremely basic remote bivouac.
Further analysis of Stage 12 eventually led to the complete cancellation of the day’s action for the riders. The cars and trucks were due to traverse the dirt tracks and riverbeds before the bikes and it was thought the damage caused to the soft terrain would make it too risky for the riders with hidden rocks and deep ruts likely.
The decision seems to have been largely well received by the field, who were able to ride at their own pace to San Juan on Thursday. For rally leader Matthias Walkner, who has 32 minutes in hand, the stage cancellation could be considered a gift. But for those hoping to gain ground before the chequered flag, time could be fast running out.