Dakar organizer issues alert after car explosion in Jeddah
The 44th edition of the Dakar rally kicked off from the Saudi Arabian financial center on New Year’s Day with a short 19 km prologue won by Toyota driver Nasser Al-Attiyah against Audi Carlos Sainz Sr.
But attention was quickly diverted around 6.30 p.m. local time by an official statement released by organizer ASO, which issued a security alert for the approximately 3,500 residents of the tourist camp.
A car explosion ensues outside the Donatello hotel on December 29, during which five of the six occupants of the vehicle were unharmed.
An initial statement released by ASO on December 30 said it was aware of the incident and explained that the driver was being treated at a hospital in the Red Sea coastal town.
ASO vowed to investigate the incident and pass more information when it becomes available, saying it is in constant contact with local authorities to “implement all necessary measures to ensure the total safety of all participants and fans of Dakar 2022 “.
A second communication followed on Saturday, explaining that the driver “suffered serious leg injuries and had to undergo surgery” and is about to be repatriated to France.
“His vehicle was suddenly immobilized by a sudden explosion, the origin of which is still unknown at this stage,” the statement read.
Toyota bodywork # 245: Ronald Basso, Jean Michel Polato
Photo by: ASO
ASO is investigating the incident with Saudi police, who have yet to rule out whether it was a “malicious act”.
The organizer of the Dakar decided to further strengthen the security that had been in place since its premiere in the Arab country in 2020 – and which had already been reinforced for this edition.
“The entire route, hotels and bivouacs will therefore benefit from significantly enhanced security,” said the ASO press release. “In this context, we ask you to exercise the utmost vigilance.