Kemal my friend...
Kemal, Kutlu and I shared the same boat cabin crossing the mediterranean sea in the 2006 Dakar and a bond was created right then.
In the 2007 Dakar I remember heading toward the medical tent getting my hand fixed up and I heard that Kemal had a BIG CRASH, one of those that leaves you wondering. His Bell helmet was next to him, he was bruised all over the face, and the doctors were shaking their head in disbelief. Kemal was there, all smiling sitting in front of me showing me his helmet. I had never seen a helmet that much destroyed in 27 years of racing. Kemal was comforting the doctors that he was good to go, "no problem, i just find other helmet from somebody" he said. He did keep on going. What a legend!
Then in the 2009 Dakar. Kutlu was on the side of the track in one of those hot river bed all by himself which was strange as they had pretty much the same level day-in / day-out. I stopped to give him some of my fuel as we were about to enter some dunes and he said that Kemal was behind with some motorbike issues. Kemal HAD ALWAYS motorbike issues :) and a very willing riding style that made you wonder how the bike and him could possibly stay together! I went on my own merry off-road adventure without GPS going for the straight line across the dunes and landscapes and didn't see them in the bivouac that night. I thought, "oh nooo something happened with the bikes."
The next day we started on that same special backward, there was a lenghty delay as 1/3 of the field stayed in the dunes that previous day, then guess who arrived, both Kemal and Kutlu. They camped out in the dunes lighting a small fire and hugging all night as it was freezing cold. Grabbed their next day road book and took off again, the other way. That was the real deal.
Kemal, you have a lot of friends out there and you will be forever with us. You are the truest never giving up individual that I have come across, and you know what? you never did give up, ever...and no one can take that away from you.
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