Dakar: The cancellation of step 9 will allow grouping

Bulacia and Bustos © DR

Marco Bulacia and Claudio Bustos will have to wait until Thursday to continue their Dakar Rally adventure in a South Racing Ford Ranger after a massive landslide forced rally officials to cancel the ninth stage between Salta and Chilecito in Argentina on Wednesday.

Lying 20th overall at the bivouac in Salta, Bolivian driver Bulacia is in a string position to challenge for top 15 honours over the last three days of the race.

But crews running behind the Ford Ranger on the road on Tuesday were stranded by the freak weather-related incident and arrived at the overnight halt in Salta via a much longer route that gave them insufficient time to prepare for the day’s stage.

The landslide was caused by thunderstorms on Tuesday morning on the road used to connect to the bivouac, 40km north of San Salvador de Jujuy and 160km from Salta. According to Argentinean civil security, the landslide caused major damage and disruption and Dakar officials even offered their sanitary facilities to reinforce safety for the local population.

With the link road cut off, the majority of the vehicles, competitors and assistance crews were diverted on to an alternate route through San Antonio de los Cobres, increasing the liaison distance by around 200km.

Wednesday was, therefore, used as a regroup liaison section to Chilecito before the action resumes with a special stage of 449km in a route of 751km between Chilecito and San Juan on Thursday.

Bulacia’s latest generation South Racing Ford Ranger was prepared by Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) with collaboration from South Racing. Bulacia has additional backing from YPFB, Vialco, Hard Rock Santa Cruz, BOA and Ende for his second Dakar with South Racing.

Neil Perkins,