205 Africa Raid chief mechanic Quentin Lavalee dies in Dakar Rally liaison stage accident

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Credit: PH Sport

The Dakar Rally ended Friday with victory for many, but also tragedy. In the morning of the race’s final day, mechanic Quentin Lavalée died of injuries sustained in an accident involving the support vehicle he was driving and a civilian truck. He was twenty years old.

“This morning at 11:30, on the assistance liaison route, an accident involving an assistance vehicle and a local truck, according to local police authorities, occurred at kilometre 234,” read a statement from race organiser Amaury Sport Organisation. “The driver of the car belonging to the team PH Sport, Quentin Lavalée, of France, very sadly passed away in the accident. He was 20 years of age. His passenger, the Belgian Maxime Frere. was injured and was transported to the National Guards Hospital in Jeddah. He was conscious and a full analysis is underway.”

Lavalée was the chief mechanic of the #726 Peugeot 205 T16 fielded by 205 Africa Raid in the Dakar Classic with support from Lavalée’s employer PH Sport. Piloted by Rudy Jacquot, the #726 finished twenty-fourth in the class, two spots behind team-mate and uncle François‘ #728 Peugeot 404. The T16 is a restoration of the vehicle driven by Ari Vatanen to victory in the 1987 Rally. Rudy’s cousin Christophe finished thirteenth in 205 Africa Raid’s #902 MAN TGE 280.

“It is with immense sorrow that we mourn today the loss of Quentin, our chief engineer on the 205 Turbo 16,” read a translated social media post from PH Sport. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to Quentin’s family and loved ones.

“Many of us have known the Chalindrey native since he was born and have seen him grow up to join our team. His passion, kindness, simplicity and radiant personality will be sorely missed.”

Deaths are sadly not out of the ordinary for the Rally, with Lavalée’s passing marking the third straight year of it occurring among race-related personnel; two competitors, Paulo Gonçalves (cardiac arrest) and Edwin Straver (crash injuries), died in the 2020 edition, followed by fellow Frenchman Pierre Cherpin from a wreck in 2021. The news also means the 2022 Rally is bookended by bad news. Days before the race, French buggy racer Philippe Boutron‘s assistance truck exploded outside his team’s hotel while he was driving to scrutineering; although non-fatal, he suffered leg injuries that resulted in hospitalisation. Boutron has since returned to France to continue his recovery, while race security was amplified and French authorities launched an investigation.

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