As racers battle in what has been described as the "toughest Dakar yet", Tuesday's results were insignificant in light of two-time champion Fabrizio Meoni's tragic accident.

As racers battle in what has been described as the "toughest Dakar yet", Tuesday's results were insignificant in light of two-time champion Fabrizio Meoni's tragic accident.

The winner of Wednesday's Bike race, Marc Coma, was visibly shaken by the loss of the great cross-country rider.

"There was only one Fabrizio," Coma said. "For me, he was a reference and will always be. I'm young in this race, only racing since three years ago and he was an example for us. Fabrizio was a gentleman and now he's gone."

Meoni's team-mate Cyril Depres finished the stage in second place and refused to comment on the news. Isidre Esteve Pujol finished third while South Africa's Alfie Cox finished fifth to maintain his fourth position overall in the race.

At the end of the stage, Bike teams and rally officials met to set up event arrangements that would allow the riders time to mourn the passing of Meoni and fellow rider Jose Manuel Perez, who died on Monday. Stage 12 between Kiffa and Bamako has been cancelled for the Bikes, and riders and their equipment will be transported by plane to Bamako, Mali. The Car and Truck competitions would continue as planned.

On Wednesday, Jutta Kleinschmidt won the stage for the Volkswagen team ahead of Mitsubishi's Luc Alphand and overall leader Stephane Peterhansel. The Mitsubishi team-mates however, maintained a huge overall lead over the Volkswagen driver.

Finishing fifth on the stage between Atar and Kiffa, South Africa's Giniel de Villiers held onto his fourth place overall in his Nissan.

Hans Bekx and Gerard de Rooy, both in DAFs, completed the eleventh stage of the Truck competition in first and second place. The two Kamaz trucks of Vladimir Tchaguine and Firdaus Kabirov finished third and fourth, though Kabirov still holds a commanding lead.