Deeply sad news of the loss of experienced rider, Eric Palante. Eric did not arrive at the check point on Thursday after Stage 5 of the 2014 Dakar rally. A sweep truck was tracing his route this morning, and at 08:30 hours local time they located the body of Belgian rider (entry number 122) at kilometer 143 between Chilecito and San Miguel de Tucuman.
Cause of death is yet unknown and is subject to analysis by Judge Dr. Massucco of Belen. No distress alert was received by the organisers, and Eric’s water was replenished that afternoon at a previous checkpoint.
Eric Palante was 50 years old. He was an experienced rider and this was his 11th Dakar race. Organizers and friends describe his approach to racing as enthusiastic and serious. Dakar press release added that Eric was “one of the pillars of the event”.
We offer our sincere condolences to family and friends of Eric Palante.
This news serves a grim reminder at how seriously dangerous the Dakar rally has been. Since the event began in 1979 (35 years ago), there have been 28 competitor deaths and 42 spectator or pedestrian deaths related to the event. This includes two fans who died yesterday. 19-year-old Agustin Ignacio Mina and 51-year-old Daniel Eduardo Ambrosio, were killed on Thursday when the vehicle they were using to follow the race turned over. Our condolences to the families of these spectators.