Santiago Unlucky UAE rider Mohammad Al Beloushi has crashed out of the Dakar Rally — after being directed down a wrong turning.
A breakdown in communication between the race organisers and local police saw Al Beloushi and a number of other riders being told to go the wrong way during the ninth stage between Antofagasta and Iquique in Chile.
And it was while on that diversion, without any road markings or warnings, the Emirati and another competitor hit a hole in the road, ending their races. Al Beloushi was forced to withdraw his KTM 450 from the competition with just five stages remaining in the gruelling event.
"I can honestly say that I don't think any of the racing I have done before helped me with what happened," Al Beloushi said after retiring. "The Dakar Rally is a one-off, there's nothing like it.
"I've done small rallies before that last three or four days, but that can't compare with the Dakar. I'm just hoping to improve day by day. I'm lucky that my team and my sponsors didn't put any pressure on me to perform miracles. Everyone was supporting my plan of just getting to that finish line and learning along the way."
Only four days from the finish, with mostly sand stages ahead in Peru, Al Beloushi was looking forward to keeping his momentum until the finish, saying, "I feel angry because we had a strategy which was to bring the bike and rider home day by day and be consistent in my first Dakar. I climbed from the starting position of 130th to 43rd overall.
Al Beloushi follows fellow UAE-based rider Sam Sunderland out of the race.