Dakar Rally to “change procedures” after water found in gas

Dakar Rally organisers are set to “change procedures” after water contaminated the fuel supply given to the motorbike class on Monday, which resulted in the retirement of frontrunner Andrew Short.

Factory Yamaha rider Short was running in eighth position on yesterday’s stage when he refuelled at the 267km point, and his bike’s engine cut out seven kilometres later.

The American tried to fix what he assumed was a problem with the engine or fuel pump, but when it refused to restart he finally gave up and got into the organization’s helicopter.

The bike was transferred to Yamaha’s base at the bivouac at 19:00 local time, and mechanics discovered that there was two litres of water in the fuel tank, team sources have confirmed to Motorsport.com.

Yamaha filed a complaint with the FIM – to have the stage cancelled at km 267, where the contaminated centralized refuelling tanker was located. With the presence of water in the gasoline confirmed, event organizer ASO warned all competitors to check their tanks and engines.

Other motorcycle and SSV riders, including KTM’s Toby Price, also found water mixed with their gasoline. However, at midnight local time on Tuesday, the race management of the motorcycle category decided to keep the classifications as they were and confirmed Short’s retirement.

Event director David Castera said: “Yesterday we had a small problem with a [gasoline] supply. It seems that there was water in the tank. It is a huge tank of 30,000 liters. I do not understand because we have a very well [defined] procedure, and yet this has happened.

“Everything has been complicated a little by the retirement of Andrew Short, who did not know what was happening with his bike. If you take out the water, your bike works and you [rejoin] the race. His engine didn’t break down, it just stopped. Others have had water but in such small quantities that it hasn’t affected the behavior of the bike.

“We are looking at changing the procedure of the gas system so that it doesn’t happen anymore.”

Despite this, on Tuesday’s stage some SSV drivers are reported to have encountered similar problems again.

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