The 2005 Dakar was the scene of another very sad day with the death of Fabrizio Meoni, a day after Spanish biker Jose-Manuel Perez passed away in an Alicante hospital after crashing during stage 7.
The Italian biker had taken the start of the day's stage 11 in second spot overall, over 9' behind Cyril Despres. The leading bikers had been riding together on the fast course early in the special. Indeed five riders made it bunched at CP1 (Despres, Meoni, Esteve, Coma and Frétigné) with Coma setting the provisional best time.
A few minutes after refuelling at km 184, Meoni suffered a serious crash. David Frétigné who witnessed the accident, immediately launched the Italians distress signal. A medical helicopter sent on site made it on the scene of the crash at 10h36 finding Meoni in a situation of heart failure. After 45minutes of treatment, the efforts appeared to be vain. The hour of death was pronounced at 11h11 GMT.
The other riders, not aware of Meoni's condition carried on the special with Marc Coma clocking the fastest time of the day.
The leading bikers were then informed, on the finish line, of the sad news by race director Patrick Zaniroli. Shocked by the terrible news, they then headed to the bivouac in Kiffa on a liaison. The organisation decided not to inform the other competitors in order not to trouble them psychologically on the long road to Kiffa.
The Dakar rally has today lost one of its greatest figures. At 47 years of age, Fabrizio Meoni was seen by all as a reference in the world of rally raid and the bearer of the Dakar Spirit. The Italian had started as a privateer for the first of his 13 Dakars winning 14 stages and 2 titles in 2001 and 2002.