Dakar Rally claims life of rider Eric Palante

The infamous Dakar Rally has claimed the life of another participant. 50-year-old Eric Palante of Belgium was killed while traversing the fifth stage of the cross-country race via motorcycle. Organizers grew concerned earlier Friday after he hadn't finished the leg, which most racers had completed on Thursday. They found his body on the course.

His cause of death remains unclear. Palante was a Dakar veteran – in fact, it was his 11th race. "He knew the race very well, and over the years his enthusiastic but serious approach had made him one of the pillars of the event," organizers said, according to Fox Sports.

Palante's death is the first among competitors in this year's rally, but is sadly not the first fatality of the 2014 race. Fox Sports also reports that two spectators, 19-year-old Agustin Ignacio Mina and 51-year-old Daniel Eduardo Ambrosio, were killed on Thursday when the vehicle they were using to follow the race overturned.

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