Z ehn rally days everything went well at the 2011 Dakar. Of course there were a few accidents, but there were only minor injuries. But on Thursday, January 13th, the eleventh day of the rally, fate struck. A farm worker died in his pickup truck in a collision with a rally car. The Volkswagen team also had an accident: on the way between the hotel and the bivouac, their 20-seater bus collided with a small car. Its driver, thank God, got away with his life.
Depressed mood in the bivouac
In the morning at seven, shortly after sunrise, the VW drivers and their co-drivers came to that fateful one Thursday for duty in the bivouac in Chilecito /Argentina .. But the mood was different than usual. Nobody was in the mood for jokes, everyone looked serious. Carlos Sainz had his foot taken care of, Nasser Al-Attiyah massaged his back. At first, nobody wanted to speak out to the journalists who had camped next to the VW wagon castle and who were packing their tents and sleeping bags on their accompanying Amaroks.
A few minutes later, however, leaked: The Bus driven by a local driver had violently collided with a small car, the driver of which had disregarded the right of way. At first it looked bad from the scene of the accident: 'The driver was bleeding, his arm was hanging out of the window and he didn't move,' reported Al Attiyah's copilot Timo Gottschalk in the evening. The hospital had already given the all-clear: The driver of the accident got away relatively lightly with a broken jaw and facial injuries.
Fatal collision on the country road
Only a few kilometers from where where the VW bus was rammed, another accident occurred on that unfortunate Thursday. Unfortunately with tragic consequences. At 6:10 a.m., when it was still dark, a rally participant, the Argentine Edoardo Amor, collided with a 40-year-old pickup on a well-developed country road. Its driver, the 42-year-old farm worker Marcelo Reales, was seriously injured. Reales was quickly flown to the nearby Tinogasta hospital by a helicopter belonging to rally organizer ASO, but died a little later. The crew of the Toyota Hilux was uninjured.
At first, nothing precise could be learned about the course of the accident. The prosecutor started an investigation. The fact is: The collision occurred on the way to the bivouac inChilecito. Amor and co-driver Alejandro Fenoglio started the difficult special stage in the white dunes around Fiambala the day before at 2 p.m. Before that, they had already mastered the 500-kilometer liaison stage over the 4,800-meter-high Paso San Francisco.
Did fatigue play a role?
It can be assumed that Amor /Fenoglio was at the time the accident had already been on the road for more than 24 hours, sometimes in extremely difficult terrain. Did fatigue play a role? There is currently no answer to this question. The only fact is: the rally car showed only relatively minor damage. The left front wheel was torn out, the front damaged. The apparently at least 40-year-old pickup truck of the unfortunate enemy in the accident broke into several parts. The photos by local photographers also show that the pickup was very likely not equipped with seat belts.
The organizer dealt correctly with the tragic accident, which by the way was only mentioned in passing in the Argentine media: Inside A short time ago, Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) published a communiqué with the most important facts.
Allegations to the VW PR department
Regarding the VW accident, however, ASO acted very strangely. After the VW PR department had sent out a press release (absolutely correct!) About the accident, the Volkswagen men suddenly found themselves confronted with allegations from the French Dakar organizer. Two senior ASO men made reproaches to the VW men according to the motto: 'Did it really have to be that you hang the matter so high?'
This behavior is narrow-minded, cowardly and stupid. Apparently there is a way of thinking in the Amaury Sport Organization that one would rather trust states like North Korea. Particularly spicy: The parent company of ASO is a press publisher. The Amaury Sport Organization, which bought the commercial rights to the rally from Gilbert Sabine, the father of the charismatic Dakar founder Thierry Sabine, who had died in an accident in the mid-1990s, should know better. The audacity to reproach Volkswagen on this matter is a shame. Especially for a press company.