Spanish motorcycle rider Carles Falcon was flown to hospital with serious injuries after he crashed near the end of Sunday’s second stage of the Dakar Rally in the deserts of Saudi Arabia.
Race director David Castera told reporters Falcon had lacked a pulse but was resuscitated by the first doctor to arrive on the scene.
French veteran Stephane Peterhansel took the 50th car stage win of his record-breaking Dakar career as familiar names moved back into the reckoning and Spain’s Carlos Sainz took over at the front for Audi.
Peterhansel, known as ‘Monsieur Dakar’ after 14 overall victories on two wheels and four between 1991 and 2021, finished the stage from Al Henakiyah to Al Duwadimi 29 seconds clear of compatriot and nine times world rally champion Sebastien Loeb.
The stage win was the 83rd of Peterhansel’s career across two and four wheeled categories and the Audi driver now shares the car record with Finnish great Ari Vatanen. The 58-year-old moved up to ninth overall.
Three times Dakar winner Sainz, 61, was eighth fastest on the 463km stage.
Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi slotted into second place overall in his Toyota, one minute and 51 seconds behind the Spaniard, with Loeb moving up from 19th to third with four minutes and 17 seconds to make up.
Defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar was fourth on the stage, ending up seventh overall and more than 12 minutes off the lead.
“We pushed from the beginning, but after we broke the rear we stopped for more than 10 minutes to repair,” said the five times winner.
“With all the problems yesterday and today we are still in the game, it’s only 12 minutes in the overall.”
Overnight leader Guillaume de Mevius dropped from first to fifth after having to go first on the road and losing 27 minutes to Peterhansel.
“A difficult day for us for sure,” said the Belgian.
“We started in front so, the first 200 km was OK I think. And after 200, a little bit more, Carlos passed us when we got lost.
“Then we were in the dust of Carlos and then we got lost a second time and then we got a puncture and then everything after was more difficult.”
Botswana’s Ross Branch was 11th in the motorcycle stage but retained the overall lead on two wheels with Chile’s Jose Ignacio Cornejo two minutes and 55 seconds behind.
American rider Mason Klein, third overnight, hit mechanical trouble and spent two hours on repairs.