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Extreme Weather Creates Dakar Rally Chaos Due to Flood in the Desert

The Dakar Rally is a world-renowned competition that those familiar with the event know as an all-out race in the desert. One of the issues that most people will never have in the desert is a down pouring of rain but for 2023 running of the Dakar, that just wasn’t the case. Instead, competitors would face an entirely new set of challenges that stood in the way of getting to the finish line for the event now held in Saudi Arabia.

The traditional desert format would be met by enough rain to cause some pretty insane flooding at the bivouac in Dawadmi. Stage six, this past Thursday, had been shortened 100 km due to the conditions that prevented safety helicopters from doing their job and even stopped some of the racers in their tracks. It was at this point that the racing action stopped and turned into a vehicle rescue of sorts.

Video has emerged that shows what is known as a “wadi” forming in the desert. A wadi is essentially a valley or river bed that’s completely dry but can turn into a river when the rain gets heavy enough.

As competitors were greeted by this wadi, some tried to pass and didn’t quite make it.

T3 competitors, Cristina Gutiérrez and Francisco López Contardo attempted to pass and ended up getting stuck. This is where things got interesting and an incredible show of sportsmanship came alive when fellow competitors, Martin van den Brink, Gert Huzink, Janus van Kasteren, and Aleš Loprais, from the T5 class, stopped to pull them out. In the process, they would sacrifice their lap times.

Due to these efforts and a show of sportsmanship, those who stopped to help out where awarded time deductions. This would allow Huzink to end the stage in the lead.

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