Dakar Rally organisers cancel two stages for security reasons
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News
2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally
Leg 9: Tidjikja - Nema (3 kms liaison, 736 kms special, 0 kms liaison)
Friday, January 9th, 2004 (issued at 18.00 hrs GMT)
Weather conditions: dry and warm in Nema (19C)
DAKAR RALLY ORGANISERS CANCEL TWO STAGES OF RALLY
Security reasons behind route amendments
NEMA (Mauritania): Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sport team drivers Stephane Peterhansel, Hiroshi Masuoka and Andrea Mayer were scheduled to tackle a gruelling special stage between Nema in Mauritania and Mopti in the Republic of Mali on Saturday.
But, at an energency press conference on Friday evening in the dusty Nema bivouac, the rally organisers, the TSO, issued a statement announcing the cancellation of two special stages between Nema and Mopti and Mopti and Bobo-Dioulasso on Saturday and tomorrow (Sunday).
Information received by both the French and Mali authorities that armed gangs could be present in the area gave the organisers no alternative but to cancel the two stages for security reasons.
Competitors will now head directly from Nema to Bamako on Saturday and will arrive in Bobo-Dioulasso on Sunday evening. The rest day will take place as planned on Monday and the rally will resume on Tuesday with a stage from Bobo to Bamako.
The last time sections of the route were cancelled was on the 2000 Paris-Dakar-Cairo Rally, when a terrorist threat from the GIA caused the organisers to airlift the entire Dakar caravan across the Tenere Desert from Niamey in Niger to Sabah in Libya. This resulted in the loss of five days' competition.
Competitors were still to arrive in the Nema bivouac at 18.00 hrs GMT, but Mitsubishi Motors drivers Hiroshi Masuoka and Stephane Peterhansel were running at the front of the field after the third passage control.
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