Belgian rider Eric Palante dies in Dakar rally

50-year-old's body discovered on stage five

ERIC Palante has died during the Dakar rally in Argentina.

The Belgian competitor's body was found this morning by race organisers at the 143km mark of the fifth stage of the rally, between Chilecito and San Miguel de Tucumán.

The circumstances of the 50-year-old's death are being investigated.

It was Palante's 11th Dakar, in the amateur category.

A statement from the organisers said: 'The circumstances of Eric's death are the subject of an analysis by the Judge Dr Massucco of Belen.

'No alert was received by the organisers, and Eric's water had been replenished in the afternoon.

'Fifty-year-old Eric Palante was taking part in his 11th Dakar and hoped to win the amateur trophy for motorbikes. He knew the race very well, and over the years his enthusiastic but serious approach had made him one of the pillars of the event.

'It is with great sadness that the organisers and the entire family of the Dakar offer their condolences to Eric's family and friends.'

The rally runs through Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, with the finish in Valparaiso on January 18.