Stage 9 of the Dakar Rally was cancelled after a landslide caused by intense rain swept away the main road used to link competitors and support vehicles to the bivouac.
The landslide happened on the liaison road some 40 km north of Jujuy, and 160 km from Salta, which caused considerable damage to a village along the way, according to Argentinian civil security.
While the leading group of riders competed the stage, many riders, support teams and vehicles were stranded and eventually Dakar vehicles, competitors, assistance and logistics were diverted over a much longer route and some were not due to reach Salta in time for the start of Stage 9. The stage was therefore cancelled.
A number of larger vehicles will not be able to use that road either.
The day will be devoted to regroup the race caravan in Chilecito to continue the event by giving the start on the 12th of January of stage 10, between Chilecito and San Juan.
Sam Sunderland – Overall Leader: “Yesterday we were unable to take the liaison due to the landslide which swept everything away. My thoughts are with the victims of this catastrophe. Today’s stage was cancelled, which sucks a little bit, but nobody can control the weather. Assistance vehicles were unable to go through, and we had to take the road to the bivouac, which is as you can imagine it could be… I’ll be able to get cleaned up and start organising the road book for tomorrow. I’m eager to go back to racing. Sure, we would’ve liked to race today as well, especially with an exciting special bringing bikes, cars and trucks mixed in. It’s frustrating, for sure, for the organisers preparing a nice stage like this. The rally isn’t over yet, and I’m not thinking of winning. At the Dakar you have to take things day by day, and we have to stay focused until the last kilometre without taking any risk. Let’s see how it pans out.”
Pablo Quintanilla: “The marathon stage was intense. It was difficult in the first part, which was short but had lots of navigation. I knew that it was a marathon stage and that there was no assistance, so I tried to save the bike. There was lots of water on the second day, so I wasn’t happy, so I decided to slow down because it was easy to make a mistake and fall. I set a decent pace to finish without problems. It’s a real pity today’s stage was cancelled. I was looking forward to this important stage, but we’ve got to keep in mind half of the pilots had not arrived yet this morning. We need to adapt to circumstances such as rain, the weather and stage changes. This doesn’t help me, but there’s still three days to go, fortunately…”