Extreme weather has forced organisers to cancel the first full stage of the 2016 Dakar Rally.
A combination of storms and thick low cloud grounded aircraft for the opening stage from Rosario to Villa Carlos Paz which left officials unable to guarantee competitors safety.
Following an initial delay to allow for the weather to clear a decision was made to abandon the run.
Competitors will now travel to Villa Carlos Paz in convoy under untimed ‘link section conditions’.
“The helicopters needed to guarantee the safety of the participants during the race are unable to fly due to poor weather conditions on the course of the special and at the end of the stage,” read a statement from the Dakar Rally.
“The entire field will reach Villa Carlos Paz under link section conditions. Motorcycles and quads will travel in a convoy, cars on their own and trucks on the course reserved for assistance vehicles.”
As a result, the rally standings remain unchanged with Bernhard Ten Brinke leading the car division by three seconds from Peugeot’s Carlos Sainz with Xavier Pons in third.
Honda’s Joan Barreda Bort is at the top of the time sheets in the bike section with Australia’s Toby Price in 16th spot.
While officials confirmed four individuals were taken to hospital, a further statement confirmed 10 people were treated with two spectators sustaining serious injuries.
“The joint resources of the organization and local forces have taken over and evacuated four injured, including two seriously affected,” organisers said.
“Police have indicated that six more lightly injured have been transferred to hospital.”
The Dakar Rally will continue today with a run from Villa Carlos Paz to Termas Rio Hondo.