Polish Rider Michal Hernik Dies at 2015 Dakar Rally
Michal Hernik

Michal Hernik Death at 2015 Dakar Rally

Tragedy stuck the 37th edition of the Dakar Rally Tuesday during stage 3 that took riders from San Juan to Chilecito, Argentina.

While competing and running 84th overall, the Polish rider Michal Hernik was found dead shortly after 4 p.m. When found, Dakar officials said the 39-year old, who made his debut this year at Dakar aboard the #82 Frama Prom KTM 450 Rally, did not display “any external signs of an accident.”

According to the official report, race management lost communication with Hernik while he was running in 84th position and were informed that he did not complete the special stage at 3:16 p.m. This stage, which ran along a rocky section at the base of the Andes, was shortened from its original 137 miles due to the difficulty of stage two.

The official report says an ambulance helicopter found Hernik 300 meters off the route at 4:03 p.m. “Unfortunately, the on-board doctor could only confirm the rider’s death,” the report said.

Hernik was no stranger to off-road endurance racing; he completed last year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the 2013 Morocco Rally – both rounds on the FIM Cross-Countries Rally (Morocco not on 2015 FIM schedule).

Hernik becomes the 10th competitor to perish in the past decade at Dakar Rally – coined as the world’s toughest off-road race. Last year, Belgium rider Eric Palante (50-years old, Honda) was found dead, and, like Hernik, there were no signs of an accident.

The staff at Ultimate MotorCycling expresses our deepest condolences to Hernik’s family and friends.

Following is Michal Hernik’s rider profile from official Dakar press:

It’s the story of three friends who had a dream of doing the Dakar. Their names: Pawel Stasiaczek, Michal Hernik and Norbert Madetko. All three knew that to live their dream, they first had to prepare for it. They first decided to travel to Africa to witness similar terrain to what they would have once on the Dakar. Morocco, Mauritania, Mali or Burkina Faso were just a few of the countries visited by the enthusiastic Poles.

Then came the choice of bikes and they turned to real pros, eventually acquiring KTMs from Marek Dabrowski and Jacek Czachor. After nicknaming their machines Cizia, Zike and Baby, it was time to race. After competing in Abu Dhabi, they were all set for the Dakar. Sadly only two will be on the start line in Buenos Aires: Pawel and Michal. Finishing the rally and taking Cizia and Baby back to the Argentinean capital would be their success.

“Getting ready to Dakar took us two years. But we don’t know what awaits us during this rally. It is difficult to evaluate because our references come from the rallies we competed in Morocco and Abu Dhabi. The Rally of Morocco is very similar to the Dakar in terms of terrain. The difference is that it only lasts six days, that’s basically three stages of the Dakar. In terms of amateurs, our goal will be to complete the rally whatever the position. That would be our success. Our most powerful asset is our friendship and mutual support in difficult moments after heavy days. This is due to our common dream and the adventure we lived to prepare for the Dakar. Our weakest point will probably dealing with the emotions and stress of such an event.”