Dakar Rally Claims Competitor

Dakar Rally. Image: en.wikipedia.org

The Australian contingent tackling the Dakar rally has been cut down to six. Prior to the latest stage even beginning Adrian di Lallo and Harry Suzuki fell afoul of mechanical problems and were unable to make the start.

The 220 kilometer mountain stage from San Juan to Chilecito (284 for cars) in Argentina saw competitors summiting altitudes of almost 3,500 meters.

Mattias Walkner managed to edge out the favourite Marc Coma (first and second respectively). Joan Barreda cemented his overall lead with third. While Australian Toby Price hung on for a creditable fourth –  in only his first attempt at the gruelling race.

But the day was marred by tragedy.

Polish rider Michal Hernik was found dead by race rescue teams only 14 kilometres from the finish. Ambulance helicopters were in the air looking for him within minutes of losing contact with his Irritrack signal.

When the rider was located all the on-board doctor could do was pronounce him dead. The cause of the fatality is yet to be explained as Hernik, “did not show any external signs of an accident.”

Hernik had rally racing experience in both the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (2014) and the Morocco Rally (2013). This was, however, his first attempt at the Dakar Rally in Argentina.

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