Cherpin, 52, was competing in the seventh stage of the iconic rally from Ha’il to Sakaka in Saudi Arabia when he crashed at the 178-kilometer mark.
According to a statement from race organizers, the Frenchman was found unconscious and taken to Sakaka’s hospital where a medical report revealed severe head trauma.
Organizers say he had severe head trauma and underwent neurosurgery. His condition stabilized and he was placed in an induced coma before being airlifted to Jeddah’s hospital. He died during a transfer in a medical plane from Jeddah to Lille, France.
“The Dakar caravan would like to extend its sincere condolences to his family, relatives and friends,” said a statement from organizers.
Cherpin was taking part in his fourth Dakar Rally since making his debut in 2009 when the race was staged in South America for the first time.
Competing in the “Original by Motul” category for unassisted riders on bikes and quads, he was in 77th position in the general standings at the end of the sixth stage of this year’s race.
“I am an amateur, I don’t want to win but to discover landscapes that I would never have had the opportunity to see otherwise,” Cherpin had said, according to the statement from organizers.
“Everything is exciting: riding the bike, living out your passion, getting to know yourself.”
The 2021 Dakar Rally, which started on January 3, concludes in Jeddah on Friday.
It was held in Europe and Africa from 1979 to 2007 but was moved to South America and then the Middle East in 2020 after the 2008 event was canceled following security concerns.
There are traditionally five major vehicle categories in the Dakar Rally — cars, motorbikes, trucks, UTVs and quad bikes.