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2012-01-01 21:25

DEATH ON DAY 1: Argentina's Jorge Martinez Boero on his Beta during Saturday's symbolic start of the 2012 Dakar Rally in Mar del Plata. He died on Sunday in a crash on the first stage of the event. image: AFP

Santa Rosa, Argentina - The death of Argentine bike rider Jorge Martinez Boero on Sunday on the first day of the 2012 Dakar Rally immediately focused attention on the hazards of one of motor sport's most dangerous events.

Organisers said Boero, 38, died from head and chest injuries sustained in a crash on the first stage of the first day of the event from the Atlantic coastal city of Mar del Plata. Boero was racing in his second Dakar; In 2011 he withdrew from the rally during Stage 6.

"However experienced the racers may be, they know the Dakar is high risk and that unfortunately this (kind of accident) can happen. Any error can cost you your life," Ignacio Crotto, race co-ordinator for the province of Buenos Aires, told TN television news.


The 57km stage was won by Leonid Novitskiy of Russia in the cars category and Francisco Lopez of Chile among the motorcycles. Novitskiy finished the special stage in 32min12 - five seconds ahead of Polish driver Krzysztof
Holowczyc. Each was driving a Mini.

South Africa's Giniel de Villiers (Toyota) was fourth, 15sec behind the leader.

Lopez, on an Aprilia, crossed the line in 32min37, 14sec ahead of defending champion Marc Coma of Spain (KTM). Third was Argentine Javier Pizzolito (Honda).

Coma scored some early points against team mate and principal rival Frenchman Cyril Despres, who finished 13th, 1min48 behind the stage winner.

The failure of the day was that of Alfie Cox, whose Dakar came to an end before he could even reach the finish of the special stage. The former motorcycle rider from South Africa had built an ambitious project with Team Pewano but he burned the Volvo XC-60 he was racing in the Dakar for the first time.

The crew escaped the fire safe and sound but the car was destroyed. 


Results after Sunday's first stage, a 57km special (819km total) from Mar del Plata to Santa Rosa.

1 Leonid Novitzkiy (RUS) Mini 32min12
2 Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL) Mini +5sec
3 Stephane Peterhansel (FRA) Mini +9sec
4 Giniel de Villiers (RSA) Toyota +15sec
5 Robby Gordon (USA) Hummer +49sec
6 Carlos Sousa (POR) Great Wall +52sec
7 Christian Lavieille (FRA) Proto Dessoude +1min00
8 Bernhar Ten Brinke (NED) Mitsubishi +1min20
9 Orlando Terranova (ARG) Toyota +1min56
10 Ricardo Leal Dos Santos (POR) Mini +2min13
Selected: Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Hummer +9min50.

1 Francisco Lopez (CHI) Aprilia 32min37
2 Marc Coma (ESP) KTM +14sec
3 Javier Pizzolito (ARG) Honda +27sec
4 Quinn Cody (USA) Honda +30sec
5 Jakub Przygonski (POL) KTM +49sec
6 Joan Barreda Bort (ESP) Husqvarna +57sec
7 Sam Sunderland (GBR) Honda 1min05
8 Ruben Faria (POR) KTM 1min18
9 David Casteu (FRA) Yamaha 1min26
10 Jonah Street (USA) Yamaha 1min30

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