Far from the cities and with greater custody: this is how security was reinforced at the Dakar Rally after the explosion suffered by Philippe Boutron in 2022

Testimonial from Race Director David Castera on safety improvements (Photo: Shakedownteam)

The explosion suffered last year by the French pilot philippe boutron forced the organizers of the dakar rally to redouble the security parameters in Saudi Arabia and the first step was to set up the first week of the event in the same camp called Sea Camp which is located on the shores of the Red Sea. This was stated by the director of the race, david casterain a press conference in which he was infobae. Inside the premises there are police vehicles and on the outskirts controls each private vehicle that wants to enter.

“Being in a Bivouac (camp) is easier for everyone and everyone stays there. We have worked a lot on security and put new things. There are more police officers and personnel who are going to follow the entire Dakar. There is much more control than last year. A different control so that we also take into account what happens, what can happen and what has happened”, affirmed Castera.

This medium asked him by how much security was improved and the former pilot replied that “last year we had 30 thousand people affected to security and I don’t have an exact number, but I know there are more people than last year. I know they are checking all the vehicles coming in which is something we haven’t done before. That is a job for the local authorities and they are the ones who do it. There are police vehicles every five and ten kilometers. They are very present.” In addition, he affirmed that “there is a joint work of the police and military forces”.

Police custody is located every kilometer around the perimeter of the camp
Police custody is located every kilometer around the perimeter of the camp

Although the race began this Saturday with a prologue that was an 11-kilometre competition, there was a lot of previous activity since the competitors and the teams had to carry out the technical and administrative checks. Is about 3,000 people between participants, organization and permanently accredited journalists. The new security strategy is based on having everyone involved in the camps and preventing any entry and exit from these “nomadic villages”, as the Dakarian camps are called, which will have nine points throughout the country.

The new security protocol was based on concentrating everything in one place and Amaury Sports Organization (ASO), the company that is in charge of the commercial rights of the Dakar Rally, did not want to repeat the experience of last year when in the run-up to the race the protagonists mobilized through the streets of Jeddah, which was the epicenter city of the race at the beginning and at the end.

It was in one of those transfers that on December 30, 2021 when a team assistance vehicle that Boutron suffered an explosion when his team was heading towards the King Abdullah Stadium in which the verifications had to be carried out, two days before the start of the race. The French pilot suffered injuries to his legs and remained in a coma until January 6. He then he was transferred to France. The rest of the members suffered no consequences.

The Sea Camp is the epicenter of the entire week leading up to the race (Photo Eric Vargiolu / DPPI)
The Sea Camp is the epicenter of the entire week leading up to the race (Photo Eric Vargiolu / DPPI)

This generated the concern of his colleagues, including the Argentine Orly Newfoundland: “The important thing is that we all know the truth, so at least we can be more alert for assistance, where we left the car. Because if there is someone who wants to use the Dakar to send a message, be it political, religious, whatever, I really don’t know. Let’s say, if we at least know that we are facing a possible incident, one will be more alert, “he told infobae in the last edition.

This fact caused the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean Yves Le Drianproposed the cancellation of the competition to the organizers (also French), who chose to retain the support of the Saudi authorities whose contract with ASO will expire after the 2024 edition. infobae everything is given to renew the bond for another five years so there would be a Dakar Rally in the Middle East for a while.

But the Boutron attack went deep in France and the State Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office conducted an investigation and determined that “just an improvised explosive” could cause the explosion. Once the race is over, the radio RTL reported that French law enforcement officers traveled to Saudi Arabia at the end of January to analyze the remains of the vehicle, within the framework of the investigation opened by “attempted murder for terrorist purposes”.

There were military reinforcements for this year
There were military reinforcements for this year

In turn, the General Directorate of National Security (DGSI) of France also got involved and according to sources consulted by RMC Sports they stated that Not only was Boutron an attack if not also the fire that suffered an Italian assistance truck camellia liparotti, pilot of the Side by Side category (UTV or sand vehicles). At first it was suspected that the accident was caused by an electrical problem, the DGSI’s work focused on a possible terrorist attack, something that Liparoti’s co-pilot, the Spaniard, had raised from the outset Xavier Blanco. The cause would have been a short-range explosive device.

That is why ASO decided for this year to put together a tour away from the cities and set up its own bubbles to avoid as much contact as possible from the cities. Even the local staff who work in logistics for the event sleep in some containers in the camp and thus cannot leave. It should be remembered that there is a dining room in which ASO provides food 24 hours a day to all those involved in the event.

The Sea Camp is a temporary property of 23 hectares located on the shores of the Red Sea and there is a police vehicle and heavily armed troops every 500 meters around the perimeter. During the two competitions, all those involved in the event do not travel through the cities. Those who do it by land will have strong police custody whose motives can be seen on the routes. While the press and the staff of the organization of the race are transferred by air and their movements are from the camps to the airports. Once they landed, they also have the protection of the security forces to reach the new camp.

All this modification in the security protocols tries to avoid any possible incident that endangers the pilots and all the people involved in the event. Anyway, the state of maximum alert is maintained and the objective is to reach the end, which will be on Sunday, January 15, without any incident.

Keep reading:

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Carlos Sainz with Infobae: the secret to seeking his fourth victory in the Dakar Rally at 60 years of age
He got lost in the desert, created the Dakar, starred in a movie and died trying to rescue pilots
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