Australian dies in Dakar Rally crash

Australian motorcyclist Andy Caldecott has been killed in a crash during the ninth stage of the Dakar Rally, organisers said on Monday.

KTM rider Caldecott, who won the third stage of the rally from Nador to Er Rachidia in Morocco last Monday, fell 250km into the 599km stage between Nouakchott and Kiffa, Mauritania, suffering a fatal neck injury.

“We learned at 11.57am GMT of the death of Andy Caldecott, who fell after 250km,” race director Etienne Lavigne said.

“He probably died instantly. We learned of the accident at 11.31am and the helicopter landed at 11.55am. His death was confirmed at 11.57am.
Obviously his family have been informed.”

The 41-year-old Caldecott, a specialist in the desert and four-time winner of the Australian Safari from 2000 to 2003, was married with one child.

He had not been scheduled to compete in this year’s race, but was called in to replace Spaniard Jordi Duran, who pulled out injured in December.

Caldecott becomes the 23rd competitor to die in the Dakar Rally since it started 28 years ago. Last year, two motorcyclists died—Spain’s Juan Manuel Perez and Italy’s Fabrizio Meoni.

Lavigne added: “All I know is that he died of a neck injury. Following last year’s race, we introduced more security measures, including imposing a speed limit. Unfortunately, fatal accidents can happen even at moderate speeds.

“He was riding on a very fast section but within the speed limit, and we will have to wait till the end of the stage till we tell the other riders.”

Caldecott’s team director Jordi Arcarons, of Spain, said: “This is really difficult to accept and there needs to be more protection for riders, but it is too late for Andy. We will have to speak with the riders to help them deal with the situation.

“But you can’t change what has already happened and there is always a risk in an event like this.”

Caldecott, who won two stages last year on his way to finishing sixth overall, said after his win last Monday: “I am pretty surprised to have won the stage because I arrived for the Dakar at the last minute without really being prepared for it.”—Sapa-AFP

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