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article imageSafety Questions Asked After Rider In Coma In Dakar Rally

By Christopher Szabo     Jan 8, 2010 in Sports
Questions have been raised over the safety of the Dakar Rally, which held its sixth stage along Chile’s Pacific coast. There have been three serious participant injuries as well as the death of a spectator.
Press TV says the race has claimed the lives of 27 people since it began 31 years ago. The latest bad news from Stage Six is the critical injury of Italian motorbike rider Luca Manca in a crash. Manca is now in a coma in a Santiago hospital, following a head injury, described as ”life-threatening.”
And in yet another accident during the stage, Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves broke his collarbone in a crash and has been forced to retire. This follows David Casteu’s retirement after breaking his leg, also in a motorbike accident the day before.
The Stage, from Antafogasta to Iquique on Chile’s Pacific Coastline saw pre-race favourite Stephane Peterhansel of France in a BMW X-RAID and Spain’s motorbike favourite, Marc Coma, recover from earlier losses to win the stage in their categories, AFP reported. Peterhansel said:
I am surprised that we got such a fast time, having driven through 200km in the dust of other competitors. We were originally targeting overall victory, but now, it is more complicated. I want therefore to drive as fast as possible and climb back up the overall standings as high as possible. We could finish as high as the top three.
Spain’s Carlos Sainz leads the 1-2-3 hat trick of Volkswagen Touaregs. He said:
There really were no problems, only that half of the stage we had to drive in the dust behind my teammate Mark Miller. The last descent was incredible. We could see the (Pacific) Ocean. It (the descent) was really really steep.
The overall favourite to win the race, another Volkswagen driver, South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, is not in the running although he is still in the race.
Coma, after winning Stage Six, moved into fourth place overall. The KTM rider said:
It was a really good day, a long one at that with a lot of navigating to be done. There were parts of the route that resembled Egypt. It really was beautiful.
The next stage is back along the coast from Iquique in the north to Antafogasta, but along a different route.
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