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Dakar Rally Delayed After Crash Leaves 11 Spectators Injured

4 January 2016 - Autoblog

Dakar Rally Delayed After Crash Leaves 11 Spectators Injured

Things have not gotten off to a good start at this year's Dakar Rally. The new Prologue stage was interrupted halfway through after a crash injured 11 spectators.

Making matters worse, the first full stage that was set to take place on Sunday was postponed due to bad weather.

Saturday's accident saw newcomer Guo Meiling lose control of her X-Raid Mini over a jump, leaving the course and hitting a group of spectators. Though initial reports placed the number of injured at four, subsequent updates revealed the number had grown to 11 – six adults and five children. Four helicopters and numerous ambulances responded to the scene of the accident to treat and evacuate the victims, which included a father and his 14-year-old son reported to be in serious condition.

The seven-mile Prologue session was a new addition to the schedule that, while counting towards the final points, was designed primarily as a qualifying session. Though some of the cars, bikes, and quads made it through the session before it was canceled, none of the participating trucks did. The competitors subsequently advanced to the Villa Carlos Paz for the start of the first full 150-mile stage, but heavy rain prevented the supervising helicopter from taking off, and so the stage was canceled. Pending suitable conditions, the rally is set to start in earnest on Monday from Termas Rio Hondo.

One of the most famous (and famously grueling) motor races in the world, the Dakar Rally dates back to 1978 when it started in Paris and ended in Senegal. The route through Europe and Africa has changed over the decades since, but after the 2008 rally was canceled due to terrorist threats, the event moved in 2009 to South America. The current route takes place primarily in Argentina, starting in Buenos Aires, heading west and north, over the border into Bolivia and circling back to end near the starting point in Rosario. After three years of supremacy by the Volkswagen Touareg, the Mini X-Raid team has dominated its automotive class for the past four years running.

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