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Biker's death overshadows fifth Dakar stage wins

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by Emmanuel VERSACE , with wires

Latest update : 2009-01-08

The death of French motorcyclist Pascal Terry (pictured) has clouded the winning performances of South-African Giniel de Villiers in auto and American Jonah Street in moto in the fifth stage. Tomorrow, the caravan enters the Andes.

San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina Photo : teoteco

It was a sombre rally that left Neuquen for San Raphael on the fifth leg of the Dakar rally in the shadow of French participant Pascal Terry’s death.

Father-of-one Terry, head of a plastering firm in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, was reported missing at the end of the second leg between Santa Rosa and Puerto Madryn.

On January 4 he alerted event organisers that he was having fuel problems.

Later that day 49-year-old Terry, who was taking part in his first ever Dakar rally, sent out a distress signal and search parties were sent out.

His body was found by Argentine rescuers on the night of January 6 – 7. The cause of death has yet to be confirmed.

Local police said they were investigating the fatality, the 26th involving a competitor in the race's 30-year history.

Nasser al Attiyah takes the lead


Spain's Carlos Sainz lost the lead earlier in the day after running into trouble in sand dunes on a day.

This year's race, which started in Buenos Aires last week, has also left both British driver Paul Green and his navigator Matthew Harrison in a serious condition in hospital after their car overturned during Saturday's first stage.

Sainz, who began Wednesday's fifth stage from Neuquen to San Rafael with a lead of 3.49 minutes over Qatar's Nasser Al Attiyah in the car race, ran into trouble in the dunes.

He eventually limped home in ninth place in six hours 3.25 minutes while South Africa's Giniel De Villiers won the stage in 5:47.43, followed by Germany's Dieter Depping.

Al Attiyah's fourth place was enough to give him the overall lead while De Villiers' win moved him up to second in the overall standings and Sainz dropped to third.

"I drove 200km without power steering," said Sainz. "Driving in these conditions is pretty hard. And when the dunes started, it was even harder and I ended up rolling over."

Maiden win for Jonah Street

Spaniard Marc Coma's lead in the bike race was reduced by 15 minutes when he finished seventh after losing 20 minutes because of tyre problems.

Coma is still 27 minutes in front of American Jonah Street who won the stage in six hours 41.06.

This year's 30th edition is being held in Argentina and Chile instead of Africa because of security concerns in Mauritania which forced the cancellation of last year's event.

Tomorrow’s sixth stage starts in Mendoza in the shadow of the Andes, and participants will face a challenging belt of sand dunes 20 kilometres deep.

Date created : 2009-01-07