Wed, Jan 18, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Deaths won't derail next year's Dakar Rally, director says

AFP , DAKAR, SENEGAL

Spain's Marc Coma, left, winner of the bike race in this year's Dakar Rally, and Luc Alphand of France, winner of the car category, stand on Alphand's Mitsubishi during a photo opportunity on Monday at Lake Rose, close to Dakar, Senegal. The two drivers decided to exchange their winning vehicles a day after the end of the Dakar race.

PHOTO: EPA

The tragic deaths of two children as well as one competitor will not prevent the Dakar Rally taking place next year, the head of the controversial race said on Monday.

French driver Luc Alphand won the event for the first time in his Mitsubishi. Spain's Marc Coma, riding a KTM, won the motorcycling category for the first time.

Sunday's final stage was a somber affair. It took place as an untimed section as a mark of respect for the 10-year-old and 14-year-old boys who perished as well as Andy Caldecott, the Australian motorcyclist killed after a fall in Mauritania.

"Of course there will be a Dakar 2007 with a great deal of work on security and prevention," race director Etienne Lavigne said.

His desire was backed by the formidable figure of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.

"It isn't necessary to stop the Dakar because there's been an accident," Wade said.

"The race is a very good thing. Here is a sport born in Africa and which has taken place for 28 years. As we speak, the entire world is following this race. It's very important. But in the future, we have to make sure as much as we can that there are no further deaths," he said.

The three fatalities on this year's race follow the deaths of two motorcyclists in 2004.

In the history of the Dakar Rally, 47 lives have been lost.

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