Turkish, Dutch riders killed in accident during rally
DHA photoTurkish rider Kemal Merkit, dubbed the “Desert Tiger” for his performances in off-road events, and Dutch rider Wouter Vaarkamp were killed in accident Sept. 7 during the Transanatolia Rally.
The accident happened at around 9 a.m. during the third day of the rally, when the 19-year-old Vaar Kamp hit the 52-year-old Merkit from when he stopped to help Italian rider Mirco Miotto. The two riders died at the crash site while Miotto was hospitalized with minor injuries.
The rally was called off due to the accident.
Merkit became the first Turkish rider to compete in the Paris-Dakar rally when he participated in the event in 2000 and also became the first Turk to finish the grueling race in 2002. In 2010, Merkit won the race’s Mallet Motos category, which is the group for motorcyclists who compete without any type of mechanical assistance. He was the runner-up in the same category in 2011 but withdrew in the fifth stage in this year’s competition.
Turkish Motorcycling Federation chief said in a written statement that Merkit had a special place in the Turkish motorcycling community as “Brother Kemal.”
“It is a great loss,” Bekir Yunus Uçar said. “He was passionate about motorcycles, a complete racer and died while racing. I offer my condolences to his family and everybody who loves him. May God rest his soul.”