Fatal Dakar accident: racing on the open road

Fatal accident at Dakar Rally 2016
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D he Dakar Rally has another bad spectator accident to complain about. On the stage from Uyuni /Bolivia to Salta /Argentina, the Frenchman Lionel Baud captured a local with his Mitsubishi Lancer prototype. The 63-year-old man was fatally injured. The exact circumstances of the accident are still being investigated by the local authorities.

Unlike the Chinese Guo Meiling, who lost control of her Mini on the first day of the rally and threw a group of spectators, Baud, 48, is not a rally -Beginner. The Frenchman ranked 52nd on the day of the accident, i.e. in the middle.

Dakar stage on the open road

auto motor und sport is on site at the Dakar rally - of course also in Bolivia. The ams Mini Countryman passed the region in which the accident occurred early in the morning. Astonishing things could be noticed: Part of the special stage was held on the Ruta 21, a wide gravel road that serves as the only connection between the villages of Uyuni and Tupica. The ams crew left Uyuni at 7 am and drove south on Ruta 21, not knowing that this road was partially used as a race track.

Claus Mühlberger
On the Routa 21, the ams crew suddenly met racing vehicles.

Suddenly something shocking happened: after a confusing bend, about 60 kilometers south of Uyuni, the auto motor und sport -Mini came out on top in the motorcycle category (the bikes start in front of the cars and the trucks) at the racing pace.

The Ruta 21 was NOT closed. Neither the police nor the marshals of the organizer ASO stopped the traffic. Spectator cars and people who had nothing to do with the rally also drove towards the racing vehicles on Ruta 21. Pure luck that it wasn't toodangerous encounters.

It is very unlikely that the fatal accident had anything to do with the poor organization. Nevertheless, it is very worrying how casually the organizer ASO, a French publisher that also publishes the sports newspaper L'Équipe, deals with the issue of safety.

Negligence on the subject of security

French laissez-faire does not excuse this. After this serious mistake by the organizer, the uncomfortable feeling remains that the ASO has not done everything to ensure the safety of drivers and locals.

Dakar boss Etienne Lavigne emphasizes at every opportunity how much they care ASO takes care of security. But on that Saturday the organization was not up to date.

This may also have something to do with the fact that the long-time head of security at the ASO, David Castera, left the company last year. The Frenchman, who always received a lot of praise for his care and sociability, signed on to Peugeot as co-driver of Cyril Despres in 2008 DKR.

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