posted on Jan, 11 2005 @ 12:22 PM
The Dakar Rally lost one of its greatest two-wheel exponents on Tuesday when Italian rider Fabrizio Meoni was killed in a desert accident.
Meoni, who had been running second in the motorcycle class just nine minutes behind leader Cyril Despres, crashed his KTM around 184 kilometres into
stage 11, between Atar and Kiffa in Mauritania. A medical helicopter was scrambled to assist the two-time Dakar winner, aged 47, but after 45 minutes
of treatment he was pronounced dead.
Meoni is the second rider to die as a result of injuries sustained on the Dakar in as many days. On Monday Spanish rider Jose Manuel Perez succumbed
to the injuries he suffered last Thursday. Event organisers, who began this year's rally with tributes to multiple winner Richard Sainct after his
death in an Egyptian rally, were quick to pay tribute to another fallen hero.
A statement read: "It is with huge sadness that the rally was informed this morning of the death of Fabrizio Meoni, one of the greatest rally-raid
"The entire Dakar caravan wishes to express its sincere condolences to his family, his friends and his many admirers."
Tuesday's stage was expected to be one of the hardest on the rally and event organisers took the decision last night to slash over 250km from the
planned route as a safety measure.
Prior to Meoni's accident, they admitted "the first half of the special will be a lot tougher, especially if the weather remains this way". Results
were far from the minds of most competitors upon completing stage 11 and hearing of Meoni's demise.