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Fabrizio Meoni

Dakar 2005: Death of Fabrizio Meoni

January 11, 2005
Photos courtesy KTM

7.00 p.m.
Official statement from KTM, Mattighofen, Austria

Fabrizio Meoni’s fatal accident

Fabrizio Meoni was in a serious crash during the 11th stage of the Dakar Rally. Despite immediate medical attention, it was not possible to save Fabrizio Meoni’s life and he died of his injuries at the scene of the accident.

Due to this tragic incident the KTM management explicitly urges all KTM teams and factory riders to break off the Dakar Rally.
KTM is however leaving it up to the individual drivers, teams and their sponsors to decide whether or not to continue the Rally.

Since KTM lost two of its best rally pilots, Fabrizio Meoni and Richard Sainct, in fatal accidents within a period of only a few months, the manufacturer will be contemplating its future support for the rally sport.

Our thoughts go out to Fabrizio´s wife and children.

7.25 p.m.
Rally world mourns for Fabrizio Meoni

For years he has had a formative influence on the motorcycle events in the rally scene. Twice he won the toughest rally in the world, in 2001 and 2002. For a short while he took leave from the Dakar already last year, but his passion for it won once more. Fabrizio Meoni took off for yet another Dakar Rally on New Year’s Eve, his 47th birthday. Today he died during the stage. With Fabrizio Meoni the rally scene looses one of its most fabulous riders.

About the accident: Fabrizio crashed right after CP 1. At the checkpoint at kilometer 175 he was leading. The crash happened 15 minutes later. It had to have been a brutal crash. When the helicopter with the medics arrived 20 minutes later, Fabrizio lay stretched out in the sand, blood everywhere. His heart had already stopped beating. The doctors tried in vain to revive Fabrizio. His death was officially diagnosed at 11.11 a.m. His death was caused by a broken neck.

The whole KTM team is in shock.

Claudia Patuzzi, Team KTM Gauloises, remembers, “How should I describe this man? Fabrizio personified this rally; he lived it. Everyone looked up to him. Fabrizio was always looking for challenges, he wasn’t satisfied with the simple, he wanted to fight. He was such a nice guy, a friend. Fabrizio was a true Italian, who knew how to live.”

Jordi Arcarons, Team KTM Repsol-Red Bull, adds, “Fabrizio was a great motorcycle rider and an extraordinary man. He was always open-minded and honest. Everyone who knew him just had to like him.”

Joe Barker, Team KTM Red Bull USA, tells, “Although I hadn’t yet known him for a long time, he was a hero for me. It was incredible to see someone who was 47-years-of-age in such a fantastic physical condition and in such high spirits.”

Romeo Feliciani, mechanic for Fabrizio, claims, “He was just like a big brother to me.”

Heinz Kinigadner explains, “With Richard Sainct and Fabrizio Meoni we have lost two of the best and most experienced rally riders on their jobs within the previous four months. It is very tragic and it hurts so much. At first we need to come to terms with these terrible blows. Fabrizio had personified our idea of rally racing. He won many rallies; one of them the Dakar on a single-cylinder as well as on the twin from KTM. Just before the start of this years Dakar I talked to Fabrizio in Barcelona and asked him if he wanted to manage the KTM rally teams.

I personally believe that all KTM factory riders should go home. This is not just a question of piety, but also of safety. The riders have a lot on their minds after two such tragic blows. Nobody can forget it this easily. We also need to think about the people on our KTM assistance teams. Many of them are faced with a tragic like this for the second time within a short timeframe.

The Dakar is certainly no walk in the park. Therefore in my eyes it is impossible to go on because it is no longer safe. Further no one will be able to enjoy further victories. However I like to stress that this is my own personal opinion. Those responsible for the teams and the sponsors are now asked to make a decision.

I believe the entire KTM engagement is put up for question after these two deaths. However this decision will take time.”

His 13th Dakar Rally should become his last. Already one year ago he had promised his family to stop racing altogether. He wanted more time for his wife and his two children. His small daughter is barely two years old. But once again he wanted to endure the pain. Rallies were his absolute passion. When he was only 15-years-of-age Fabrizio began to take his hobby serious. He became a member of a motor sport club.

Since 1987 he rode a KTM on the races. In 1988 Fabrizio became the Italian Junior Champion in the 250 ccm class. This victory became his stepping-stone to the rally scene. He rode his first rally in 1989. Three years afterwards he made his debut at the Dakar and claimed a 12th place on the first try. During his career he won several rallies: five times in Egypt, four times in Tunisia and one time in Dubai. But without a doubt, his largest successes were the two Dakar victories in 2001 and 2002.

Fabrizio is the eleventh motorcycle rider ever who got killed on a Dakar Rally. We are going to miss him. Our thoughts are with his family. Many friends and fans mourn together with them for Fabrizio.

At the finish line of the special the participants of the rally were informed about the tragic accident by Patrick Zaniroli, head of the organizer A.S.O.
Here the results of the KTM factory riders on the 11th special from Atar to Kiffa for the sake of completeness.

# 1 Marc Coma (Team KTM Repsol-Red Bull) 5h 58`59
# 2 Cyril Despres (Team KTM Gauloises) + 1´12
# 3 Isidre Esteve Pujol (Team KTM Repsol-Red Bull) + 3´57
# 5 Alfie Cox (Team KTM Gauloises) + 4´45
# 6 Jean Brucy (Team KTM Gauloises) + 11´37
# 8 Andy Caldecott (Team KTM Motorex Australia) + 12´50
# 9 Chris Blais (Team KTM Red Bull USA) + 13´16
# 12 Giovanni Sala (Team KTM Repsol-Red Bull) + 15´41
# 22 Scot Harden (Team KTM Red Bull USA) + 1´06´53
# 87 David Schwarz (Team KTM Motorex Australia) + 3´59´13
# 101 Kellon Walch (Team KTM Red Bull USA) + 5´01´34