Kurt Caselli won his first career stage of the Dakar Rally today. The accomplishment catapults him into the spotlight and puts in in eighth place overall, less than20 minutes behind leader Olivier Pain. Caselli is riding his first rally, an event which he didn't even know he was to enter until he got the tap to ride Mark Coma's factory Red Bull KTM just weeks beforehand. While not unheard of, a rookie win is very rare in the highly competitive event. His teammate Cyril Despres lost time today with a transmission malfunction that didn't allow him to shift into top gear.
Caselli's win, however, was overshadowed by tragedy. Motorcycle rider no. 106 Thomas Bourgin (FRA) was the victim of a fatal traffic accident on the link route as he made his way to the start of the day's special stage.
The accident took place at 08.23 hours local time on the link route on the way up to the Chilean side of the mountain range. The 25-year-old rider collided with a Chilean police car that was travelling in the opposite direction. The exact circumstances of the accident are being subjected to an inquiry.
The rally's medical teams deployed on the ground were only able to certify the rider's death, probably instant.
Thomas Bourgin, from Saint Etienne, where he was born on December 23rd 1987, was in 68th place in the overall ranking of his first Dakar. He had realised his passion since 2009 when he took part in the Morocco Rally, followed by a 4th place in the 2011 Africa Race and a 7th place finish in the Tunisia Rally.
The organisers of the Dakar and everyone involved in it express their great sadness to his family and friends and offer their most sincere condolences.
WARNING: Much of the action depicted in this magazine is potentially dangerous. Virtually all of the riders seen in our photos are experienced experts or professionals. Do not attempt to duplicate any stunts that are beyond your own capabilities. Always wear the appropriate safety gear.
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