Sadly, the Dakar Rally has once again claimed the life of a competitor on two wheels. Organizers said in a press release tonight that rider Michal Hernik of Poland, 39, was found dead on the selective section of the third stage of the rally between San Juan and Chilecito.

The casue of Hernik's death remains under investigation, organizers say, but no external signs of a crash or accident were discovered.

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Race officials say they detected the loss of his signal and discovered he had not completed the special stage this afternoon, leading them to form a search party. An ambulance helicopter found Hernik 300 meters off the route.

This was Hernik's first Dakar rally. He had previously competed in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in 2014 and the Morocco Rally in 2013. The AP photo above was taken Sunday before the start of the race in Buenos Aires.

Last year Belgian motorcyclist Eric Palante died in the treacherous rally, as did two spectators following the event.

Photo credit AP