Rally legend Fabrizio Meoni died today as a result of his crash at the 114-mile mark of today's 11th stage of the Telefonica Dakar rally.
According to event promoters, a medical helicopter was sent to the scene of Meoni's crash where doctors treated him for 45 minutes. However, the two-time Dakar winner (2000 and 2001) died at just after 11 a.m. (GMT). The Italian was 47 years old.
Meoni was running second overall in this year's rally behind Cyril Despres. It was Meoni's 13th Dakar Rally.
Meoni's death is the second in as many days as Spanish rider Jose Manuel Perez succumbed yesterday to the injuries he suffered last Thursday. Perez was 41 yeasr old.
Today`s stage was expected to be one of the hardest on the rally with event organizers even taking 155 miles out of the route as a safety measure. High winds and sandstorms have played a part in the rally in recent days.
Meoni is the 22nd person to have died in the 27-year history of the race and he had announced that this would be his final Dakar. He is survived by his wife, Elena, and two children Gioele and Chiara, aged 14 and two.
Reports from the race indicated that the Gauloises KTM team may now pull out of the event, removing overall leader Despres from the running. Despres is a protege of both Meoni and the late Richard Sainct