Martin Kolomy became the first casualty of the Dakar rally after suffering a spectacular accident in a training just three days after the start of the raid. The Czech driver had to be transferred to a hospital in Jeddah, the city of Saudi Arabia from where the rally will start on Sunday, after his car took several turns when it hit its front end with the sand.
In his social networks the pilot reported that he has injured at least two vertebrae, and accompanied the information with a photograph where he is seen on a hospital stretcher with his neck immobilized by a collar. The Czech, who has extensive experience in the Dakar having run nine editions by truck and having won two stages, lost control of his Ford Raptor by taking a leap where when landing the front of the car hit the ground.
The car was again on its four wheels after several turns that damaged its chassis and caused intense back pain to its pilot. The Central European starred in the first abandonment of the forty-second edition of the rally without even having taken the exit. Although the car can be repaired it will not arrive in time to pass the technical and administrative reviews that the organization performs to each participant before the first stage begins.
The Czech was part of the private MP Sports team, where he premiered in cars with the aim of supporting his compatriot Martin Prokop during the race in his goal of getting into the rally head group aboard a Ford Raptor truck.
Despres is signed up at the last minute
Cyril Despres, pentacampeón of the Dakar rally in motorcycles, signed up at the last minute to participate in the first edition of the test that is celebrated in Saudi Arabia. The Frenchman, who had run the Dakar in cars for the past five years, will compete this time aboard a UTV (light buggy) where he will co-pilot Swiss adventurer Mike Horn, known for being the first man to reach the north pole in winter , with absolute darkness.
The French rider was until now one of the great absentees for the premiere of the raid in the Middle East when he was expected to continue as a teammate of the Spanish Carlos Sainz and the Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel to complete the trio of buggies of the Mini team in the race.
As the organization explained in a statement, the registration in extremis of Despres was due to the delay of a month that his partner Horn had on his last expedition in the North Pole, where he suffered difficulties to advance through the thin ice thickness of the polar cap. «Life, as an adventurer I am, takes me to many places and now plays the Dakar. I have been locked in the ice for a month but I am already en route to Saudi Arabia to finally meet with my friend Cyril Despres, ”said Horn.
Thus, the surprise appearance of Despres on the starting line of the Dakar will make the UTV category even more attractive, which has grown the most in recent years. In it, the Chilean champion Francisco ‘Chaleco’ López will defend the champion and Brazilian Reinaldo Varela, who was champion of the same category in 2018, and the Spanish Gerard Farrés, who was second last year, will also be in the race.
Despres will act as leader of the Red Bull team, which has appeared in this category with two other units of its light buggy prototype that will be commanded by Americans Blade Hildebrand, 21, and Mitch Guthrie Jr., 23. The first The edition of the Dakar in Saudi Arabia will depart from the coastal city of Jeddah, in the Red Sea, and will cover more than 7,800 kilometers along the Arabian peninsula divided into 13 stages that will end on January 17 in Qiddiya, a future large leisure city that will be will build on the outskirts of Riyadh.