They reinforced security measures at the Dakar Rally after an incident that ended with an injured driver and raised suspicions

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Two patrols at the entrance to the Hail camp (Infobae)
Two patrols at the entrance to the Hail camp (Infobae)

The previous party atmosphere that lasted until December 31 suddenly changed in the Rally Dakar 2022 which is disputed for the third time in Saudi Arabia. The events that ended the pilot Philippe Boutron hospitalized some alarms were set off and security measures were increased in each camp and in other places linked to the toughest race in the world.

The 44th edition of this event was marked by what happened on December 29 when the French competitor got the worst of it in an accident a few meters from the Hotel Donatello, place where he stayed in Jeddah, home of the first service park of the race. Boutron ended up with both his legs injured and was admitted.

First, Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the French company that manages the Dakar Rally, communicated the issue to the drivers and teams. The data was leaked in the press room on Friday the 31st and there began a series of conjectures. The next day it was reported that Philippe was going to be repatriated, something that the official website of the team (Sodicars) confirmed: it indicated that he is hospitalized at the Clamart Military Hospital.

Philipe Boutron was hospitalized for burns to his legs (@US_Orleans)
Philipe Boutron was hospitalized for burns to his legs (@US_Orleans)

In dialogue with the official team website, the French rider’s co-driver, Mayeul Barbet, assured: “Something exploded 500 meters from the hotel and that the car started to go up in flames and Philippe asked me to come help him up from the seat. He no longer felt his legs! I saw the magnitude of the damage by helping him and having notions of first aid, I immediately treated him by making tourniquets because he was losing a lot of blood, without ceasing to be conscious ”.

“The ambulance arrived about 20 minutes later,” added Barbet, who described that “the other four people” were not injured after this event.

Philippe returned to his country and this Monday he was hospitalized. “It was expected that in-depth examinations would be carried out and the state of their burns would be evaluated,” they clarified from their team. The Frenchman was going to race with a Buggy in the cars category.

Police Jeeps at the access to the Al Qaisumah camp (Infobae)
Police Jeeps at the access to the Al Qaisumah camp (Infobae)

Boutron, 61, is also president of the US Orleans soccer club that plays in France’s third league. Another who is very concerned about him is Sodicars Racing team owner Richard González who, at Philippe’s request, stayed at the Dakar Rally. “We have trouble communicating because the throats are tight and at the slightest noise under the structure, everyone jumps! There can be no atmosphere after such a tragedy in our family. Our crews are clients, fans, men and women who come to have fun and live their passion ”, he assured in dialogue with Sodicars.

Then he was the Director of the Dakar Rally himself, David Castera, in statements to France TV, who revealed the identity of the pilot and gave his version of events: “A Team Sodicars assistance vehicle, leaving the hotel, was suddenly immobilized, probably due to an explosion and the vehicle caught fire. There were six people on board, including one injured, Philippe Boutron, who is seriously injured in the leg. He has been operated and is better. Of course our thoughts are with him right now. In this context, the Saudi authorities have mobilized and are conducting an in-depth investigation. Waiting for a response, We cannot exclude an act of malice, so we have decided with the authorities to strongly increase security measures on the rally”.

From then on, there was a strong security operation with several patrols in the Hail and Al Qaisumah camps. While some were located in the entrance, others turned around the adjacencies of the properties. Three were also seen this morning in a stage of stage 3 and some jeeps that got into the dunes.

On Monday a security officer asked journalists and members of the organization for passports.  It was the first time it happened (Infobae)
On Monday a security officer asked journalists and members of the organization for passports. It was the first time it happened (Infobae)

The weather is striking in recent days and, for example, on the bus that transported journalists from Al Qaisumah airport to the camp, a security officer got up to ask for passports one by one, something that had not happened before .

In the last hours, ASO – the organizing company – sent a statement in which it asked that those who are going to go to a hotel in Riyadh, notify it. “As part of the reinforcement of the security measures implemented in the Dakar in coordination with the Saudi authorities, we ask that those responsible for the group to which they belong (competitors, medical service, media, sponsors) give the name and address of the hotel where they will spend the night in Riyadh “says the press release. It should be remembered that 95 percent of all those involved in the event sleep in a tent.

The Saudi capital will be the new destination of the Dakarian caravan for this Wednesday. It will be there for five days and it will be the main epicenter of the 2022 Dakar Rally that is experiencing a climate of tension in the last days.

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