From the A.S.O., the Organizers of the Dakar
"KEMAL, OUR FRIEND
A smile will remain. One of the most contagious smiles that the Dakar bivouac has ever known. Everybody on the Rally has an anecdote, a moment of more or less fleeting complicity shared with Kemal Merkit. Some might have met him briefly during a meal, helped him out with a few litres of fuel in the middle of a special stage, spent a night in the dunes in his company, or a few hours alongside him engaged in mechanical repairs on a motorbike, arriving safely in disorder and confusion… the memory of his constant good humour is sure to remain. In spite of setbacks, pain and sometimes tears, Kemal showed the joy of the Dakar experience in all of his attitudes and in his every action. He was an abiding figure in “Malle-Motos”, the meeting point for motorcyclists competing with no assistance, and was among the most faithful upholders of the spirit of helping one another which reigns there. Kemal Merkit took part in the Rally eight times and – after a first experience in 2000 – in 2002 he became the first Turkish rider to complete the Dakar. He was preparing to line up at the start of the Rally in Lima next January, but his enthusiasm and ambition were cut short on a track of the TransAnatolia Rally, in a fatal collision with a Dutch motorcyclist, Wouter Vaarkamp, who also died on 7th September. The Dakar organisation team is deeply distressed by this tragedy and extends its heartfelt condolences to Kemal’s family and loved ones."