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Old 09-07-2012, 09:27 AM   #61
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I'm saying they were both having fun, you only get to die once. Having fun is the way to go! Sorry for the family and friends. The two are blessed and the lucky ones. Short and SWEET! Be happy for them. Cheer up and have some more fun.
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Old 09-07-2012, 09:28 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by doyle View Post
I just posted this on my blog, a bit of my tribute to a real sportsman.

Rest in Peace Desert Tiger

Kemal Merkit 06/07/1960 - 09/07/2012

It is devastating to report that today the rally world lost a true hero, a true sportsman. Turkish rider, Kemal Merkit, the ‘Desert Tiger’, rider, runner, cyclist, all around positive influence for all whose lives his presence touched, was killed doing what his fans may like to think he loved best, on a bike, in a rally stage. The discipline is a cruel one and sadly, Kemal joins many of the greats that gave everything for a sport so loved, so revered, so feared. Sainct, Meoni, Caldecott, the list goes on, hauntingly now appended with Merkit.

The details are emerging, but on stage 6 of the TransAnatolia Rally, Kemal and Italian rider Mirco Miotto slowed to check on their navigation when they were hit from behind by young Dutch rider Wouter Vaarkamp, who emerged from the dust without time to react. Sadly, Vaarkamp was also pronounced dead at the scene. Miotto received minor injuries and has been treated.

While I was familiar with Kemal from his earlier Dakar’s, he really came to my attention before the 2007 edition through the postings of a friend of his on ADVrider. Kemal became a defacto inmate, one of the riders we virtually supported year after year. His enthusiasm for racing was infectious to those of us who became his fans, an enthusiasm that never wavered and never diminished.

Unstoppable is a word that comes to mind and I challenge anyone to find a photo or a video clip where his is not smiling. Choosing to take on the toughest rallies in the toughest way possible, Kemal was the embodiment of a sportsman. I never heard a single story from anyone, that portrayed him in any other way than a helpful, enthusiastic racer, eager to help anyone and share the delight he derived from his passions.

I never had the privilege of meeting Kemal in person, but early on I became a fan and my admiration for his feats never faltered. From RallyRaidReview, only the deepest of condolences for his family, his loved ones, and his legions of rally fans. Rest in peace Desert Tiger, you will always be, one of the greats.
That is such a lovely tribute and puts in to words what the rest of us are feeling, so, so sad. My thoughts go out to both familes in this sad time.
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Old 09-07-2012, 09:50 AM   #63
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That really choked me up, Doyle. It does seem unfathomable...

Wheels to the sky, brother.
Unintentional psychokinesis.
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Old 09-07-2012, 09:58 AM   #64
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Funeral will be tommorow at Levent Mosque / Istanbul on afternoon prayer around 16:30. Religious ceremony is just a tradition, so all friends are welcome without any hesitation.

A video after accident...
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Old 09-07-2012, 10:05 AM   #65
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R.I.P Wouter Vaarkamp !
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Old 09-07-2012, 10:08 AM   #66
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Only today I read that Kemal seems to have graduated high school in Austria; I miss meeting him even more now. Here's a (bad) photo I took of him going by at the Central Europe Rally in '08.

According to the video, Tina Meier was at the scene of the accident as well.

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Old 09-07-2012, 10:14 AM   #67
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RIP Kemal Merkit and RIP Wouter Vaarkamp.

"You see in this world there's two kinds of people,
my friend. Those with loaded guns,
and those who dig. You dig." Blondie.
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Old 09-07-2012, 10:19 AM   #68
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Friend and fellow Serres competitor Andreas Glavas is at the TransAnatolia on reporting duties for a Greek motorcycle magazine, from his email this evening:

I am in shock. I saw the internet & forum posts but I still don't know what to write. It has been 4 days now that I met Kemal, he never stopped smiling once, I gave him a hoodie from the Serres race and he hasn't taken it off since. He is constantly laughing and joking, saying how much he enjoyed last year, he would get up from his Turkish pals and come ask me to join them all the time. This morning at 6 we all got up, there was Kemal again, laughing and joking...

What is there to say? We went to catch them at a fast dusty section in the Special, he was pushing today for a result and to lessen the difference from the first 3 days, and while everything seemed normal we were suddenly announced the terrible news. It's as they report it, he had stopped with the Italian when the Dutch kid slammed into them with no time for braking. This was a section where bikes were going at least at around 120km/h. The first riders were on the scene shortly before the ambulance, but there was nothing that could be done
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Old 09-07-2012, 12:30 PM   #69
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Terrible news. Kemal was one of the good guys.

First met him in 2006 Dakar, we helped him out with some parts..which I think every team who has run a KTM in the last 10 years has probably done.. Kemal was always wandering around the bivvy, big smile on his face, looking for this or that the other thing.. I think he even won the 450 unassisted class a few years back with one of our spare 525 motors in his bike (shhhhh).

Godspeed my friend.
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Old 09-07-2012, 12:54 PM   #70
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Sad day in the rallye world.

R.I.P & Godspeed to Kemal Merkit and Wouter Vaarkamp.

Condolences to all their family and friends.
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Old 09-07-2012, 01:08 PM   #71
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I'm heartbroken to hear of this. Kemal, to me, represents the Dakar even more than the front runners. Determination, perseverance, and courage.

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Old 09-07-2012, 01:19 PM   #72
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Terrible loss

I saw this news first thing this morning and couldnt believe my eyes. I never had the pleasure to meet Kemal, but since my first introduction to rallying through Patsy Quick, he has always been talked about by her, as a true gent and the spirit of rallying.

Wouter was a really nice guy, who i had the pleasure to race against this year at Tuareg, many days we were neck and neck, and had some good banter on the start lines. Such a waste of a young talent.

RIP guys.
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Old 09-07-2012, 01:33 PM   #73
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Very sad news.

RIP to both riders and condolences to their families and friends.
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Old 09-07-2012, 01:41 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by neduro View Post
Kemal, to me, represents the Dakar even more than the front runners. Determination, perseverance, and courage.

Well said. He was exactly what I thought Dakar was about.

Vaya con Dios, Sir.
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Old 09-07-2012, 01:45 PM   #75
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Kemal was always in an infectious good mood. Even in the thick of rally challenges, he brought a positive boost to everyone he met. Working unassisted on his bike, mooching parts, picking over broken bikes; he still had time to smile and say hello. It was obvious that Kemal loved rallying and was having fun. Most riders, like him, made big sacrifices to participate. Few of them enjoyed it as much as him.

Touring in Turkey in 2002, I needed a crank rebuild for my KTM 620 Adventure. The KTM shop in Istanbul looked questionable, but they had a poster of Kemal on a similar bike at the finish of his first Dakar. They had helped him, so I trusted them with the work. (The bike made it home and the crank lasted quite a few miles before it broke in Baja.) I took one of those posters and kept it in my garage. Kemal looked down from the poster as we prepped for many Dakars as if to tell us, "If I can do it, so can you." He was probably my biggest inspiration for keeping at it, especially the first few times.

We'll miss him.

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