Earlier this morning, Dakar Rally organizers confirmed the death of Belgian competitor Eric Palante. Organizers report that they found Palante’s body at kilometer 143 along the fifth stage of the rally between Chilecito and Tucuman, Argentina.
The 50-year-old motorcycle rider was competing in his 11th Dakar. As of now, the organizers have said that the cause of his death is under investigation.
According to a release, no alert about Palante was received and his water supply had been replenished in the afternoon. Palante’s family has been notified.
“It is with great sadness that the organizers and the entire family of the Dakar offer their condolences to Eric’s family and friends,” the release ended.
Additionally, two members of the Argentine press lost their lives on Thursday when the car they were driving in fell into a ravine. Super Rally magazine editor Francisco Delgado has told Agence France-Presse that the two dead are 20-year-old Agustin Mina and 51-year-old Daniel Ambrosio.
Two others, 31-year-old Martin Delgado (the editor’s son) and 36-year-old Rodrigo de Quesada, survived the accident and were taken to a hospital in Tucuman. Both of them are photographers for the magazine.
According to Francisco Delgado’s comments to AFP, the car “fell 100 meters [330 feet] over a cliff and those in the front seat were killed instantly. The others were saved.”
The Dakar’s grueling nature sadly has produced a notable number of fatalities over the years. Last year’s event saw the death of 25-year-old French rider Thomas Bourgin after he collided with a Chilean police car that was going in the opposite direction. A few days before that incident, two spectators died when their taxi collided with a team support vehicle.
Our thoughts are, at this time, with the families of those lost at the Dakar.
-- Chris Estrada, MotorSportsTalk