Sydney - The death of Australian motorcyclist Andy Caldecott in the Dakar Rally has sent shockwaves through the local community which helped fund his international career.
Caldecott died from a fatal neck injury after crashing on the 599km ninth stage of the Dakar Rally in Mauritania
on Monday. Organisers said he likely died instantly.
Family friend David Flintoff said Caldecott's hometown of Keith, in South Australia, was in mourning.
Local fundraising efforts had led to the 41-year-old entering last year's Dakar Rally, at which he won two stages and finished sixth overall.US$90 000 to cover expenses
Entrants are required to pay US$90 000 dollars to cover airfares, fuel, insurance and other expenses to race.
"He thinks the community has supported him, which they have done... but he's certainly done a lot more for the community than a lot of people have done," Flintoff told ABC radio.
Local Tatiara council chairman John Ross said Caldecott was a role model.
"He was very easygoing, very humble and always ready to go out of his way to help anybody," Ross said. "Andy has certainly become one of Tatiara's favourite sons, he was almost an idol in Keith."
Caldecott had not been scheduled to compete in this year's race but was called in at the last minute to replace Spaniard Jordi Duran, who pulled out injured in December.
Ahead of the race he said he had a good feeling about the rally, saying: "It's likely my adrenaline will help me to succeed."
Despite a lack of preparation, Caldecott won the third stage in Morocco.'Could have won it'
ABC motorsport commentator Wil Hagon said Caldecott, a specialist in the desert and four-time winner of the Australian Safari from 2000 to 2003, could have won the Dakar race if he had competed in it earlier in his career.
"He probably could have won the bikes section several times because he would have been there 10 years earlier learning it, getting faster with the event as he built his experience and so on," he said.
"Frankly he probably went there too late only in the sense of it is an incredibly tough event. I don't know if anybody realises really how gruelling it is both physically but also mentally."
Caldecott is survived by his wife Tracey and daughter Caitlin.