PARIS, France – French authorities are looking into what was potentially a second suspicious explosion at the Dakar sports car rally on Saudi Arabia last month, French radio station RMC reported on Thursday.
According to RMC, a truck belonging to the team of Franco – Italian contender Camelia Liparoti caught fire on Dec.31 after the driver heard a ‘boom’. A day earlier on explosion under a vehicle at the rally seriously injured French race driver Philippe Boutron.
French anti – terrorism prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into the first explosion earlier this month. Foreign Minister Jean – Yves Le Drian has said ‘there were hypotheses that is was a terrorist attack’.
However, Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said on Jan.8 that an initial investigation into the first blast had not raised any criminal suspecions.
RMC said France’s DGSI secret service was also interested by what happened to Liporoti’s truck.
On its website, RMC showed a video of the truck destroyed by fire, saying that its gas tank was hound 50 metres (164ft) away from the truck and had a hole in it.
The broadcaster said the driver heard an explosion and jumped out of the truck. No one was harmed.
France’s anti – terrorism prosecutors declined to comment.
The French foreign ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the RMC report. The French company which organised the rally, ASO, and the Saudi government also did not immediately respond.
On an Instagram post dated Han.2, Liparoti showed a picture of the truck on fire.
‘Yes, my pink truck caught fire in the night of 31st of December. Unterminated reasons. The driver go out intact, great news’, Liparoti.
‘Suddenly, just before starting racing this Dakar, I lost everything. No clothes, no gear, no passport, no place to sleep of shower. Nothing left’.
Franceinfo radio broadcaster said last week that discussion between Paris and Saudi Arabia over standing French investigators on the ground had been ‘very difficult’.
The Dakar rally, now in its 44th edition, started in 1978 as a race from Paris to the Senegalese capital but moved from Africa to South America for safety reasons in 2009. It has been held entirely in Saudi Arabia since 2020.
In March this year, Jeddah’s Corniche race circuit will host a round of the motorsports world’s most prestigious competition, Formula One.