KTM Australia’s Ben Grabham is out of the Dakar Rally after crashing in the fourth stage of the event between San Juan and Chilecito.
The 32-year-old winner of at least 30 Australian titles in various forms of off-road motorcycling encountered a drop-off in thick dust and fell heavily, before being taken to hospital for examination in Argentina where he was subsequently released.
General Manager of KTM Australia Jeff Leisk said the fall was most likely a result of yesterday’s misfortune, in which Grabham – while running third in the stage – was one of four riders to follow a lead competitor down a wrong turn and got badly stuck on a steep mountainside.
The difficulty compounded when one rider crashed heavily, and Grabham and two others waited with the injured rider while he was airlifted to safety.
The chain of events dropped Grabham from 9th outright to 32nd place, and left him many slower riders to pass in dangerous, dusty conditions.
“Ben’s had to ride through a lot of dust today and found a big drop and gone over the front,” said Leisk, himself a former World Motocross Vice Champion. “I’ve received a small amount of information and it looks like he’s hit his head and is pretty battered and bruised. He had to get checked out but seems to have nothing broken.
“Obviously he’s extremely disappointed to have his Dakar end in this manner,” Leisk said. “I was concerned when he had his setback yesterday because it puts the rider in the position of having to take calculated risks to keep moving forward. We’ve all done it – but the most important thing is that he seems okay, so I’m very relieved about that.”
Today’s stage win went to Spanish rider Juan Pedrero Garcia ahead of KTM riders Francisco Lopez Contardo from Chile and Spaniard Marc Coma while in the overall standings Juan Barreda Bort holds a narrow lead over the KTMs of three time winner Coma and Contardo.
For more information on KTM motorcycles visit www.ktm.com.au or www.facebook.com/KTMAustralia
2014 Dakar Rally overall rankings after Stage 4:
1. J.BARREDA BORT (ESP) HONDA 15:39:53
2. M.COMA (ESP) KTM 15:43:03 00:03:10
3. F.LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) KTM 15:45:05 00:05:12
4. A.DUCLOS (FRA) SHERCO 16:05:48 00:25:55
5. O. PAIN (FRA) YAMAHA 16:09:31 00:29:38
6. C.DESPRES (FRA) YAMAHA 16:21:10 00:41:17
7. D.CASTEU (FRA) KTM 16:22:10 00:42:17
8. J.ISRAEL ESQUERRE (CHL) SPEEDBRAIN 16:26:26 00:46:33
9. J.VILADOMS (ESP) KTM 16:29:07 00:49:14
10. K.PRZYGONSKI (POL) KTM 16:34:45 00:54:52
Caption: Glad you’re okay mate! Grabbo crashes out of the Dakar Rally while trying to make up lost ground in the dust. Details are still sketchy, but it seems that after a quick trip to hospital, he’s been released. But unfortunately, a Dakar effort which held so much promise is over. Pic: Maindru