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Dakar rider death linked to crash

The death of a French motorcycle rider during the Dakar rally at the weekend might have been caused by a road accident, a race official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Organisers said on Saturday that 42-year-old Eric Aubijoux had died of a heart attack after completing the penultimate 14th stage.

"We have new elements to suggest Eric was the victim of an impact," Dakar rally general director Gilbert Ysern told French regional daily Sud-Ouest.

"Medical tests appear to show that there were fractures and local police have collected witness accounts which seem to indicate that there was an accident," he added.

"When we released the first statement and said it was a heart attack, we based ourselves on the medical information we had then", Ysern said. "It was never our intention to hide anything."

Aubijoux, a motocross fanatic who was competing in his sixth Dakar Rally, had been in 18th place overall.

The race, which ended on Sunday, has claimed 50 lives in its 29-year existence, 25 of them competitors.

South African rider Elmer Symons, taking part in his first Dakar as a competitor, died on January 9 after crashing on the fourth day in Morocco. He had been in 18th place overall at the time.

Stephane Peterhansel gained a record ninth victory on Sunday and Cyril Despres won the motorcycle title to make it a French double.


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