2023 Dakar Rally: Spectator dies in accident during Stage 9

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Credit: DPPI/Red Bull Content Pool

Stage #9 of the Dakar Rally was overshadowed by tragedy when a spectator died of injuries sustained in an accident. Race overseer Amaury Sport Organisation confirmed the news following the stage on Tuesday.

Further details were not immediately disclosed, though a video purportedly of the accident shows the truck of Aleš Loprais hitting a fan while clearing a small dune to navigate a right turn. The man is seen getting up before falling down as others attend to him.

“A spectator of Italian origin who was behind a dune had an accident on the rally course,” reads a statement from the ASO. “He was evacuated by helicopter for medical assistance but unfortunately died during the transfer.”

The accident marked the fifth death at Dakar since its move to Saudi Arabia in 2020, with at least one having occurred every year. Competitors Paulo Gonçalves (cardiac arrest) and Edwin Straver (neck injuries sustained in a crash) died in 2020, followed by Pierre Cherpin for head trauma following a wreck in 2021. Last year, Dakar Classic mechanic Quentin Lavallée was killed in an accident during the liaison phase on the final day of the race.

76 in total are known to have died in various incidents since the Dakar Rally’s inaugural edition in 1979. Race founder Thierry Sabine passed away in a helicopter crash during the 1986 race.

UPDATE (11 January): Further updates, including the identity of the victim, are available in this follow-up article.

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