The Dakar Rally’s race organizers last night took the decision to annul the twelfth stage for motorcycles, citing safety reasons. Today, riders headed directly to the bivouac at the El Zonda speed circuit in San Juan.
Yesterday night, in the Fiambalá camp, race authorities made it know that the first part of today’s special had been cancelled for safety reasons. The helicopters guaranteeing the rally’s security were unable to take off due to heavy early morning fog. Moreover river-crossings were deemed to be dangerous after rains had flooded rivers which could have posed enormous difficulties for the bike riders to cross. As a consequence, competitors were to dispute only the second section after the link to Chilecito and then Section B. After granting a generous link time from Fiambalá to Chilecito – coinciding with the cars – it was then decided to postpone the start of the bike race until an hour after the departure of the trucks. This news roused passions among some riders and the organization finally opted for a total cancellation of the stage for both bikes and quads. The modified plan would have seen bikers trying to outrun trucks in clouds of dust on heavily broken track. The riders ended up taking the same route as the assistance vehicles to the El Zonda circuit bivouac located in San Juan.
The general standings thus remain the same as yesterday’s with second-placed Kevin Benavides lying 32 minutes behind the overall leader. Ricky Brabec holds sixth and José Ignacio Cornejo, ninth.
The importance of a good penultimate stage from San Juan – Córdoba is imperative, with a total of 424 kilometres of special, plus 483 kilometres of liaison sections. At 907 kilometres, this thirteenth stage is the longest of the 2018 Dakar Rally.