As temperatures in the desert climbed to 40 degrees celsius and more on Wednesday, a desert storm made things complicated for the competitors of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally in Morocco. Originally the focus of today´s stage three was on the first part of the two-day marathon stage, meaning the pilots have to maintain their machines in the bivouac without the help of outside mechanical assistance. The stage was scheduled to offer 220 kilometres of timed special test, mostly on sandy off-piste terrain. But much changed due to the weather.
The Hero MotoSports Team Rally overcame the situation with Joaquim Rodrigues making headway and CS Santosh finishing the stage.
With the conditions becoming too critical to guarantee a fair and safe competition, the race was finally interrupted at the second checkpoint. It is uncertain what this means for the riders who had already reached the end of the special test before the proceedings were halted. It looks as though Joaquim Rodrigues, who is one of only a dozen riders making it to the bivouac at 4 pm local time, has lost some ground on the leaders because of a minor crash. But a brave and courageous ride seems to have moved him into the top ten of the overall classification.
Regardless of how the currently provisional results will be confirmed, it´s clear that the decisive phase of the race has begun. The riders stay overnight in the bivouac in the Atlas mountains. Tomorrow the stage will be leading back south towards the town of Erfoud. 204 km of special test are on the agenda. Riders are scheduled enter the first road section at 6 am.