During the 2005 Dakar rally, Fabrizio Meoni was in a serious crash between Atar and Kiffa. Despite immediate medical attention, it was not possible to save Fabrizio Meoni’s life and he died of his injuries at the scene of the accident. Some months earlier, Richard Sainct had lost his life in a similar type of crash in the rally of Egypt. KTM lost two of its best rally pilots, Fabrizio Meoni and Richard Sainct, within a year. During the 2006 Dakar rally, another factory KTM rider, Andy Caldecott crashed and lost his life; ironically in the same stretch of Africa that took Fabrizio Meoni.
Fabrizio Meoni (December 31st, 1957 in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy – 11th 2005 in Kiffa, Mauritania) was an Italian off-road and endurance motorcycle rider, a member of the KTM Factory Team. For years Fabrizio Meoni had a formative influence on rally racing. Twice he won the toughest rally in the world, in 2001 and 2002 and he departed for yet another Dakar Rally on New Year’s Eve, his 47th birthday. His 13th Dakar Rally was to become his last. Already one earlier he had promised his family to stop racing altogether; he wanted to spend more time with his wife and his two children. But once again he wanted to endure the pain; rally racing was his absolute passion. He rode his first rally in 1989. During his career he won several rallies: five times in Egypt, four times in Tunisia and one time in Dubai. But without a doubt, his largest successes were the two Dakar victories in 2001 and 2002.
For most, just being next to the man was like being next to electricity. He represented pure passion and commitment to rally racing; words cannot justify his character. Meoni, like Sainct, knew the road book better than anyone that is one reason why their deaths are so hard to take.
Fabrizio symbolized the ideal racing driver. Most will always remember his birthday on New Year’s Eve in Barcelona. The room was full of balloons and he burst all of them. He was just like a little boy. One wasn’t enough for him. He had to burst them all. Whatever Fabrizio did, he did it properly.
Fabrizio personified the Dakar rally; he lived it. Everyone looked up to him. Always looking for challenges, he wasn’t satisfied with the simple, and he always wanted to fight. One team manager stated, “He was such a nice guy, a friend. Fabrizio was a true Italian, one who knew how to live.” For many he was a hero; it was incredible to see someone who was 47 years of age in such a fantastic physical condition and in such high spirits. Fabrizio was a great motorcycle rider and an extraordinary man. He was always open-minded and honest. Everyone who knew him just had to like him.
Following the Death’s of Richard Sainct and Fabrizio Meoni, KTM’s Heinz Kinigardner explains, “With Richard Sainct and Fabrizio Meoni we have lost two of the best and most experienced rally riders on their jobs within the previous four months. Fabrizio had personified our idea of rally racing. He won many rallies. The Dakar rally is certainly no walk in the park.”