Dakar Rally claims its first victim

THE organiser, sponsors and overall winner of the 27th Castrol Winterberg Enduro. Left is MIKE GLEGG, assistant clerk of the course and chairman of the Rover Motor Cycle Club, who organised the event. In the centre is MEG HOUGHTON from Castrol, and right is third-time Enduro winner, ELMER SYMONS. Pic: Peter Randall. 5/09/02. © The Herald.
THE organiser, sponsors and overall winner of the 27th Castrol Winterberg Enduro. Left is MIKE GLEGG, assistant clerk of the course and chairman of the Rover Motor Cycle Club, who organised the event. In the centre is MEG HOUGHTON from Castrol, and right is third-time Enduro winner, ELMER SYMONS. Pic: Peter Randall. 5/09/02. © The Herald.

South African motorcyclist Elmer Symons, right, was killed in an accident during the fourth stage of the Dakar Rally yesterday, race organisers said.

South African motorcyclist Elmer Symons, right, was killed in an accident during the fourth stage of the Dakar Rally yesterday, race organisers said.

He was the first competitor to die during this year's race.

The 679km fourth stage over rugged Moroccan desert terrain was from Er Rachidia to Ouarzazate as the motorcycles and cars taking part in the gruelling yearly race headed south for the Senegalese capital Dakar.

Organisers were informed during the morning that there had been an accident at the 142km stage and a helicopter was sent to the scene. Doctors pronounced Symons dead when they arrived at the scene of the accident, organisers said.

Symons, a 29-year-old company chief based in the US, was taking part in the race for the first time as a competitor having twice completed the course as part of the backup teams. He had been in 18th place overall at the time of the accident.

"We do not know the exact details of what caused the accident or how the motorcyclist died," said rally director Etienne Lavigne.

"The accident happened in a sector labelled 'dangerous' with rippling sand formations.

"The rally's nerve centre in Paris received an automatic satellite alert that indicated that the motorbike had come to an abrupt halt. The rider was no doubt killed outright."

Symons' body was taken to a morgue in Er Rachidia, Lavigne said. - Sapa

X