The Africa Eco Race (AER) has recaptured the magic of the original Paris-Dakar Rally since 2009. Over those 13 years, the rally hasn’t reported one fatality. Sadly, that spotless record ends in 2022.
AER Stage 2 kicked off on October 19, 2022. The 466-kilometer (290-mile) route from Bousaid, Tunisia, to Tagounite, Morroco, also included a 448-kilometer (278-mile) special stage. With just 23 kilometers (14 miles) left to the finish line, Portuguese rider Armindo Carreiras Neves experienced a high-speed crash in the special stage. Two helicopter-transported doctors and one Tango-vehicle doctor promptly rushed to Carreiras Neves's side, but the 52-year-old rider sadly succumbed to his injuries.
The veteran enduro rider's racing career goes back to his first Baja Portalegre 500 in 1989. His exploits weren’t restricted to two wheels either. Carreiras Neves also raced rally cars, though 2022 marked his first entry into the Africa Eco Race. Like many rally racers, number 123 dreamed of completing the Dakar route aboard his SWM machine. Unfortunate circumstances brought that dream to a premature end.
Community outpouring was swift following news of Carreiras Neves’ passing. Portuguese compatriot and 10-time Dakar Rally finisher Pedro Bianchi Prata launch a memorial post on his Instagram profile shortly after receiving word of the fatality. Organizer and experienced cross-country rally driver Jean-Louis Schlesser also mourned Carreiras Neves's death, asking competitors to stay vigilant and ride safely throughout the remaining stages.
Despite the tragic fatality, the 2022 Africa Eco Race will carry on. Participants won’t enjoy a break until October 23, 2022, after concluding the fifth stage. That’s more than 1,673 kilometers (1,040 miles) away. Hopefully, everyone makes it to the mid-way point safe and sound, and rides with Armindo Carreiras Neves in their memories. We would also like to send our deepest condolences to the Portuguese rider's family and friends during this difficult time.