Tragedy strikes Dakar Rally

2012-01-02 09:18
Dakar Rally (File)
Buenos Aires - The death of Argentine bike rider Jorge Martinez Boero on Sunday on the first day of the Dakar Rally immediately focused attention on the hazards of one of motor sports' most dangerous events.

Martinez Boero, 38, was nearing the end of a special section among dunes on the Atlantic coast on his Beta RR450 on the stage from Mar del Plata in Buenos Aires province to Santa Rosa in La Pampa in the centre of the country, organisers said.

The son of a former national motor racing champion and taking part in his second Dakar rally, he suffered serious injuries to his thorax and cardiac arrest.

Police said Martinez Boero died as he was being transported by helicopter to a hospital in Mar del Plata.

Details surrounding the accident were not immediately clear, but reports said he may have fallen after running off the course and striking an open sewer line.

"The organisers of the rally offer their heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones," race officials said in a brief statement.

The stage was won by Leonid Novitskiy of Russia in the cars category, and Francisco Lopez of Chile in bikes.

Novitskiy finished the special stage in 32 minutes, 12 seconds - five seconds ahead of Polish driver Krzysztof Holowczyc. Both are driving Minis. Stephane Peterhansel of France was third, nine seconds behind the leader.

Lopez on an Aprilla crossed the line in 32:37, 14 seconds in front of defending champion Marc Coma of Spain on a KTM. Javier Pizzolito of Argentina was in third place on a Honda, 27 seconds behind Lopez.

Fatalities are not uncommon in the Dakar Rally.

Last year a man died when his small truck collided with a car participating in the rally. In 2010, a woman watching the race was struck and killed by a vehicle taking part in the race.

In 2009, the body of French motorcyclist Pascal Terry was found after he had been missing for three days following the second stage of the race.

This is the fourth consecutive year the event is being held in South America. The rally was held in Europe and Africa until the 2008 race was cancelled because of fears of terrorism. It was moved to South America the next year.

The route this year is different to the first three, which were loop courses from the Argentine capital Buenos Aires to Chile, and then back to Buenos Aires.

This year the race begins in Argentina, passes through Chile, and finishes in Lima, Peru on January 15.

CARS - Stage 1 results

1. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS) Mini 32min 12sec
2. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL) Mini at 5sec
3. Stephane Peterhansel (FRA) Mini 9
4. Giniel de Villiers (RSA) Toyota 15
5. Robby Gordon (USA) Hummer 49
6. Carlos Sousa (POR) Great Wall 52
7. Christian Lavieille (FRA) Proto Dessoude 1:00
8. Bernhar Ten Brinke (NED) Mitsubishi 1:20
9. Orlando Terranova (ARG) Toyota 1:56
10. Ricardo Leal Dos Santos (POR) Mini 2:13

20. Duncan Vos (RSA) Toyota 4:27
27. Mark Corbett (RSA) Century 5:41

38. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Hummer 9:50

MOTORCYCLES - Stage 1 results

1. Francisco Lopez (CHI) Aprilia 32min 37sec
2. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM at 14sec
3. Javier Pizzolito (ARG) Honda 27
4. Quinn Cody (USA) Honda 30
5. Jakub Przygonski (POL) KTM 49
6. Joan Barreda Bort (ESP) Husqvarna 57
7. Sam Sunderland (GBR) Honda 1min 05sec
8. Ruben Faria (POR) KTM 1:18
9. David Casteu (FRA) Yamaha 1:26
10. Jonah Street (USA) Yamaha 1:30

13. Cyril Despres (FRA) KTM 1:48
59. Darryl Curtis (RSA) KTM 7:59
136. Greg Raaf (RSA) KTM 17:04
146. Neil Scott-Williams (RSA) KTM 19:28
158. Iain Stevenson (RSA) KTM 22:51

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