Dakar Rally director David Castera has announced that stricter security measures have been implemented for the remainder of this year’s edition after an explosion involving an assistance truck occurred pre-event.
Reports of an incident in the city center of Jeddah emerged last Thursday morning, revealing that the assistance truck for the Sodicars team had caught fire after an engine explosion.
Castera confirmed to France Télévisions following the prologue on Saturday that one driver – Philippe Boutron – had been injured.
“An assistance vehicle from the Sodicars was immobilized suddenly when leaving the hotel, an explosion surely and the truck caught fire,” said Castera.
“There were six inside, with one – Philippe Boutron – injured. He badly injured his leg and has required an operation.
“He’s stabilized, he is doing better now and in the coming days he will be repatriated to France. We’re thinking of him obviously at this moment.”
The 61-year-old Boutron is the president of the French soccer club US Orléans and was contesting his ninth Dakar.
Following the incident, Castera said that an investigation is being carried out by the Saudi Arabian police and added that greater security measures are to be put in place for the duration of the Dakar.
“In this context, the Saudi authorities have been mobilized and we’re leading a thorough investigation [as a result],” Castera explained.
“We cannot rule out malice, we can’t pursue that [investigation] which is why we’ve decided along with the Saudi authorities to enforce stricter security measures for the duration of the rally. In the meantime, we will await more details on what really happened.”
Speaking to French publication l’Équipe, a team member of Sodicars said that the squad would continue the rally.
“We have to go on,” he said. “What should we do? Go back home? No, this isn’t the solution, we must go on. We’ve known each other for years, we support each other.
“Philippe will probably be transported back to France Sunday or Monday; he’s currently in the military hospital in Jeddah which is the best place for him at the moment. He was hit hard in the calf, and he also suffered a fracture.
“He was operated on several times, during a number of hours.”