SALTA, ARGENTINA – Three deaths overshadowed Friday’s sixth leg of the Dakar Rally, as the race claimed the life of Belgian motorcyclist Eric Palante and two spectators who were following the event.
Palante’s body was found after he failed to finish Thursday’s fifth stage.
Nani Roma of Spain kept the overall lead in cars despite finishing sixth in the stage, and fellow Spaniard Marc Coma stayed on top in bikes after taking second on the stage from Tucuman to Salta in northern Argentina.
Roma, driving a Mini, has a large lead of 30 minutes, 30 seconds over Orlando Terranova of Argentina.
Coma leads fellow Spaniard Joan Barreda Bort by 42:17.
Organizers said they went out looking for the 50-year-old Palante after he failed to finish the fifth stage, and found his body along the route.
The cause of death was being investigated.
Police said two people following the race died on Thursday when their vehicle overturned in rough terrain in northern Argentina. Police identified the pair on as Agustin Ignacio Mina, 19, and Daniel Eduardo Ambrosio, 51. Officials said Mina was covering the rally for a motor racing magazine, and they identified Ambrosio as a fan of motor sports.