French rider Cherpin dies from injuries in Dakar crash

PARIS (Reuters) - French motorcycle rider Pierre Cherpin has died five days after crashing during the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally, organisers said on Friday.

The 52-year-old amateur, who was taking part unassisted in his fourth Dakar rally, had undergone neurosurgery and was placed in a medically induced coma after the crash in Saudi Arabia.

"During his transfer by medical plane from Jeddah to France, Pierre Cherpin died from the injuries caused by his fall during the seventh stage from Ha’il to Sakaka on Jan. 10," organisers said in a statement.

He was the first fatality this year in an event that has claimed many lives since the first Paris-Dakar rally was held in 1978.

Two motorcycle riders died after falls in last year's rally, Portugal's Paulo Goncalves during competition and Dutchman Edwin Straver some days later as a result of his injuries.

Organisers said Cherpin was found unconscious after being reached by the medical helicopter.

After surgery he was airlifted from Sakaka to hospital in Jeddah, from where he was being flown to the French city of Lille.

A two times finisher of the event, that ended in Jeddah on Friday, Cherpin had been 77th overall on the eve of his accident.

"I am an amateur, I don’t want to win but to discover landscapes that I would never have had the opportunity to see otherwise," he had said before the event.

"Everything is exciting: riding the bike, living out your passion, getting to know yourself."

(Reporting by Julien Pretot/Alan Baldwin; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Alison Williams)

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