Tupiza (Bolivia), Jan 14 (IANS) Dakar Rally organisers have cancelled the ninth stage of the racing event, in which competitors were to have covered a route from Tupiza, Bolivia, to Salta, Argentina, on Monday.
That route stretches for a total of 755 km, with a timed portion of 242 km. The official reason given on Sunday for the cancelation is the inclement weather that has affected southern Bolivia in recent days, reports Efe.
Heavy rains have left the camp in Tupiza covered in mud and raised the water levels of rivers the competitors would have needed to traverse.
But the cancelation announcement comes amid nationwide protests to demand the repeal of Bolivia’s new penal code and express rejection of a court ruling that allows leftist President Evo Morales to stand for an additional consecutive term.
In a 2016 referendum, citizens voted against allowing Morales to seek a fourth consecutive term in office in 2019, but the Constitutional Court subsequently scrapped term limits in a ruling late last year.
Dakar’s sporting director, Spain’s Marc Coma, said Sunday that the Tupiza bivouac, where competitors are to arrive later in the day from Uyuni, Bolivia, was in bad condition.
“The bivouac is already in poor condition. It would be possible for us to hold a special stage tomorrow, but we prefer not to take a risk and will instead send out whole caravan by road (to Salta), and continue the race from there,” Coma said.
The teams’ assistance crews have not been able to set up at the Tupiza camp due to the mud and are lined up along the highway.
They are waiting to repair the competitors’ autos, which will arrive after the second part of a two-day marathon stage (Saturday and Sunday) in which no support crews are allowed along the route.