Polish motorcycle rider Michal Hernik has been found dead on the third stage of the Dakar Rally, organisers have announced.
The 39-year-old was discovered 300 metres from the track on the stage from San Juan to Chilecito in Argentina.
Stage 3: San Juan > Chilecito
More info > http://t.co/kPFofgv4OA
@VisitArg pic.twitter.com/fIYJ04kQs8— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 6, 2015
The cause of death is unknown as Hernik “did not show any external signs of an accident”.
Hernik was competing in his first Dakar Rally and was in 84th place in the bike section of the notoriously dangerous event.
A statement from race organisers read: “The Polish bike rider Michal Hernik was found dead on the selective section of the third stage of the rally between San Juan and Chilecito at kilometre 206.
“The circumstances surrounding his death have yet to be determined, as the competitor did not show any external signs of an accident.
“When the race management detected the loss of his Irritrack signal and was informed that he had not completed the special stage at 3.16pm (local time), it decided to start a search for the rider at 3.23.
“An ambulance helicopter found the rider 300 metres off the route at 4.03. Unfortunately, the on-board doctor could only confirm the rider’s death.”
The statement continued: “The whole Dakar family offers its condolences to Michal’s family, close friends and team.”
The annual endurance event is notorious for its fatal accidents, with more than 50 competitors and spectators having lost their lives since the rally’s inception in 1979.