A Polish motorcycle racer has been found dead during the third stage of the Dakar Rally in Argentina. Michal Hernik, who had been running 84th in the event, was found dead at the 206 kilometre mark of the 220 kilometre stage from San Juan to Chilecito. The cause of his death has yet to be determined, with race organisers stating that Hernik “did not show any external signs of an accident.”
“When the race management detected the loss of his Irritrack signal and was informed that he had not completed the special stage at 15:16, it decided to start a search for the rider at 15:23,” a statement from the organisers said. “An ambulance helicopter found the rider 300 meters off the route at 16:03. Unfortunately, the on-board doctor could only confirm the rider’s death.”
The 2015 event was 39-year-old Hernik’s debut on the Dakar Rally but he had previous cross-country rallying experience, completing both the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in 2014, as well as the Morocco Rally in 2013.His official profile on the Dakar site details a short story of friendship between himself and fellow Polish riders Pawel Stasiaczek and Norbert Madetko – all of whom had a common dream to compete in the world’s toughest rally.
Ultimately, Hernik and Stasiaczek were able to reach the start this year in Buenos Aires as teammates. Both of their profiles carry the following: “Getting ready [for] Dakar took us two years…In terms of amateurs, our goal will be to complete the rally, whatever the position. That would be our success. “Our most powerful asset is our friendship and mutual support in difficult moments after heavy days. This is due to our common dream and the adventure we lived to prepare for the Dakar…”
Our thoughts and prayers are with Hernik’s family, friends, and peers at this time.