The 2015 Dakar Rally has claimed its first life: Polish biker Michal Hernik died during the third stage of unknown causes. An ambulance helicopter was dispatched when he didn't show up at the end of the stage and his tracker stopped transmitting, and he was found about 1,000 feet off the bike route, 206 kilometers into the 658-km stage from San Juan to Chilecito.

It was the first Dakar for the 39-year-old rally, but he had previously completed the 2013 Morocco Rally and 2014 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Dakar organizers say Hernik, riding a 450 Rally Replica KTM, "did not show any external signs of an accident," and at the time of writing, the cause of his death has yet to be determined.

The Dakar Rally is known as one of the toughest and most dangerous motorsports events in the world, having claimed over 50 lives among racers and spectators since its start in 1979.

Our thoughts go out to Hernik's family.


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