Dakar Rally cancellation stuns Spanish favorites

7th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Two of Spain's top rally racers said Friday they were stunned by the announcement that the Lisbon-Dakar Rally had been cancelled this year.

7 January 2008

MADRID - Two of Spain's top rally racers said Friday they were stunned by the announcement that the Lisbon-Dakar Rally had been cancelled this year because of terrorist threats.

Marc Coma, the biker who won the rally in 2006, and Carlos Sainz, who was one of this year's favourites to win the car event, expressed their sadness at the decision taken by the organisers. The gruelling race from the European to the African continent was supposed to start on Saturday.

"This has been a blow for the whole [Repsol] team," said Coma. "It is a sad thing but that is the way the world is today."

The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) said it made the decision after the French government issued a travel advisory for its citizens following the murder of four French tourists in Mauritania on 24 December. Eight of the rally's stages were due to pass through the northern African country en route south for Dakar and the scheduled finish on 20 January. The ASO said it received direct threats from terrorists.

"This is a blow to international sport and sets a bad precedent," said Sainz, who said he was "sad and disillusioned."

"I thought for a moment that we would go as far as Morocco and end the race there, and only the Mauritanian stage would be cancelled and maybe another route in Morocco would be chosen. I just can't figure it out," said Sainz, who was to race for Volkswagen.

[Copyright El Pais 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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