Sousa, co-driver in critical condition in Dakar Rally
PARIS – Portuguese driver Carlos Sousa and his co-driver Joao Manuel Luz were seriously injured in a four-car crash during the Dakar Rally in Libya on Wednesday, race organizers said.
A statement from the organizers said the two drivers, who had been leading the grueling endurance race, were in a critical condition. Six other participants were injured.
Late Wednesday, a spokesman at the Tunisian clinic where the racers were sent for treatment said their lives were not likely in danger. The injured participants were sent to the private Al Farabi clinic in Tunis, Tunisia.
”All are conscious and, in principal, out of danger,” said Kais Fekih, an administrator at the clinic.
Organizers in Paris confirmed the information and said they were waiting for a detailed medical report.
The accident involved three Mitsubishi teams in the car division of the rally, and one Nissan. The Kia Motors team that contains South Lake Tahoe native Glen Plake wasn’t involved. In fact, Plake’s team, which also includes driver Darren Skilton and copilot Sue Mead, climbed into 59th place during the 13th stage. The team finished 84th in the sandy stage.
The race continues today with a stage from Khofra to Dakhla, on the Egyptian border. The stage will challenge the teams with a variety of obstacles.
This year’s Dakar Rally has been dogged by setbacks. The rally’s passage through Niger had to be canceled due to threats of terrorist attacks. The competitors and support staff were all flown to Libya in a massive airlift where the race restarted on Monday after six-day delay. The accident happened early Wednesday at the start of stage 13.
”The four cars seem to have jumped over a dune at high speed and landed violently on the other side,” the organizers said in the statement.
They said the drivers were one kilometer (0.62 miles) off the ideal route at the time. Sousa’s car was the first to crash into the dune.
Dominique Serieys from France was in serious condition while five others were not seriously hurt, the organizers said. They said Sousa and Luz were in a critical condition.
The rally began Jan. 6 in Dakar, Senegal and had been scheduled to end Jan. 23 in Cairo.
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