The third edition of the Dakar in Saudi Arabia began today in Jeddah with a very short prologue, just 18.8 kilometers, but attention was diverted around 18:30 local time by an official press release issued by ASO, promoter of the raid that put a lot of tension inside the bivouac.
In the text, the organizers issued a safety alarm for the approximately 3,500 present at the bivouac, after a worrying accident on December 29 at the Donatello Hotel in Jeddah, in which a car exploded.
In a first statement, released on December 30 at 10:51 pm, ASO said it was “aware of an accident that took place this morning outside the Hotel Donatello, which resulted in the injury of a pilot”. He also added that the injured, Philippe Boutron, was treated in a hospital in Jeddah. His vehicle suddenly stopped and started burning after an explosion.
ASO has promised to investigate the incident and to transmit further information when it becomes available, saying it is in constant contact with local authorities to “implement all the necessary measures to ensure the full safety of all participants and fans of the Dakar 2022”.
A second communication arrived at 6:25 pm local time on Saturday, saying there were six passengers in the car, 5 of whom were unharmed.
“Only the driver of the car sustained serious injuries to his leg and had to undergo surgery. His condition is improving and he is preparing for his repatriation to France. His vehicle stopped suddenly and, just as suddenly, he is The origin of the incident is still unknown “, reads the document released in both English and French. But David Castera in a connection with France 4 admitted that there is a fear that there may have been an attack.
Boutron, president of the French football team US Orléans which plays in Liga 2, was entered in the race to run with a byggy to share with Mayeul Barbet. The Frenchman was to start his ninth Dakar, having finished 33rd in 2021.
ASO is investigating the incident with the Saudi police that was at the scene and has not yet ruled out the possibility of an attack.
However, the organizers of the Dakar have decided to strengthen the security which had already been in place since its first edition in the Arab country in 2020 and which had been strengthened for this edition. “The entire route, the hotels and the bivouacs will therefore benefit from a significant increase in safety. In this context, we ask you to observe the utmost vigilance”, concludes the press release.
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