Weekend stages cancelled

The 2004 Dakar Rally has run into a familiar old problem - security fears have led to the cancellation of all competitive action this weekend

Weekend stages cancelled

The Néma to Mopti stage, scheduled for Saturday, and Sunday's stage from Mopti to Bobo-Dioulasso have both been dropped amid reports of armed gangs waiting for crews as the rally moved into Mali.

The decision to cancel the stages has been taken following advice from the Malian and French authorities. The weekend's activity will now be a liaison stage from Néma to Mali's capital Bamako on Saturday, followed by another from Bamako to Bobo-Dioulasso.

A rest day will be held on Monday as originally planned.

Hiroshi Masuoka won yesterday's stage from Tidjikja to Néma, closing on leader Stéphane Peterhansel by 18 minutes. But the overall deficit to his Mitsubishi team-mate is still 64 minutes.



"My time wasn't so good as Hiroshi's," said Peterhansel. "But it's important that I come home in one piece."

Colin McRae has now dropped off the first page of the leaderboard, and Jutta Kleinschmidt is down in 14th, over 20 hours off the lead.



Peterhansel (Mitsubishi) 28h16m20s
Masuoka (Mitsubishi) +1h04m00s
Schlesser (Schlesser-Ford) +2h22m28s
de Mevius (BMW) +3h52m17s
Alphand (BMW) +3h59m38s
Mayer (Mitsubishi) +4h50m24s

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