Most competitors at the Dakar are glad of an extra rest day at the toughest endurance rally in the world – especially as the teams already have five days and over 1000 kilometres of timed stages behind them. The high-speed caravan was not actually due a break until Sunday, but the weather god Petrus has bestowed an extra rest day upon the participants. Dakar officials have cancelled the sixth stage of the rally due to rainfall and even snow on the border with Chile.
The teams were due to reach the 4700-metre high Paso San Francisco on Friday. However, deteriorating weather conditions have made the passage to the Chilean border to dangerous. Even under normal conditions the winding, gravel descent from the "Roof of the Dakar" is extremely unforgiving. "The safety of all participants at the Dakar has utmost priority," said a spokesperson for the organisers on Friday morning, explaining the reasoning behind the cancellation.
The X-raid team will now travel as a convoy straight to the start of Saturday's seventh stage. However, the stage cancellation does allow the drivers and co-drivers another day without having to sit at the wheel of the MINI ALL4 Racing. Instead, they can spend the day recharging their batteries and preparing in even greater detail for stage seven, which is one of the most difficult stages on this year's Dakar.
Saturday's test takes the drivers in a 573-kilometre loop around Copiapó, with 419 kilometres against the clock. The first 330 or so kilometres are over firmer sand and a brief spell on asphalt, which may not appear too spectacular at first glance. However, the final quarter of the timed route in particular sees the drivers penetrate ever deeper into a vast dune landscape. The priority here is to keep your orientation and not get stuck in the sand – a big challenge for all Dakar participants, which should once again test everyone's nerves ahead of Sunday's official rest day.
Throughout the Rally Dakar, you can keep up to speed with the latest news from the X-raid Team and the five MINI ALL4 Racings on the MINI Motorsport Twitter channel.
The X-raid team is out to extend its winning run at the Baja Poland. Khalifa Al Mutaiwei is aiming to extend his lead in the World Cup. Krzysztof Holowczyc is confident ahead of his home event.
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