Death at Dakar overshadows Day 1 UPDATE The death of Argentinean rider Jorge Martinez Boero overshadowed the first day of the Dakar Rally on Sunday in which Russia's Leonid Novitzkiy lead the cars section and Chilean Francisco Lopez the motorbikes.
The 38-year-old Boero, making his second appearance on the grueling rally, sustained a heart attack after a fall from his Beta bike during the opening day of racing between Mar del Plata and Santa Rosa de la Pampa in the West of Argentina.
Organizers said Boero received medical attention within five minutes of the crash and was airlifted by helicopter, but died on his way to the hospital.
Boero, they said, "was the victim of a fall at kilometer 55 of the special of the first stage between Mar del Plata and Santa Rosa."
"The rider suffered a cardiac arrest following his fall and was attended five minutes after the accident by the medical staff, who reached the place of the incident by helicopter.
"Despite their best efforts, the doctors were unable to resuscitate the pilot, who died while he was being taken to hospital.
"The organizers of the rally offer their heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones."
Boero's death was the 21st of a competitor during a Dakar Rally, organized 29 times in Africa from 1979 before moving to South America in 2009.
In total, 59 people have died during the rally, including more than 20 spectators.
During the day's racing, Mini got off to a strong start with Novitzkiy clocking 32 minutes 12 seconds over the 57 kilometer course to finish 5sec ahead of Poland's Krzysztof Holowczyc with France's former champion Stephane Peterhansel 9sec off the pace -- both also in Minis.
Defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah, however, struggled home 9 minutes 50 seconds behind Novitzhiy after his Hummer ran into mechanical problems two kilometers from the finish.
"We will see, but this does not look good ... whatever happens, this is not a good way to start the Dakar!" said the Qatari.
Aprilia rider Lopez timed 32 minutes 37 seconds, coming in 14 seconds ahead of defending champion Marc Coma of Spain on a KTM and 27 seconds in front of Argentinean Javier Pizzolito, riding a Honda.
Coma scored some early points against teammate and principal rival Frenchman Cyril Despres, who finished 1 minute 48 seconds behind the stage winner in 13th place.
01/01/12 Today at 11:19 am, Argentinean rider Jorge Boero (motorcycle #175) was the victim of a fall at km 55 of the special of the first stage between Mar del Plata and Santa Rosa. The rider suffered a cardiac arrest following his fall and was attended five minutes after the accident by the medical staff, who reached the place of the incident by helicopter.
Despite their best efforts, the doctors were unable to resuscitate the pilot, who died while he was being taken to hospital. 38-year-old Jorge Boero was taking part in his second Dakar. In 2011, he withdrew from the rally during the sixth stage. Dakar.com