The Dakar curse has struck again for Don Hatton. The off-road motorcycle racer from British Columbia has finished more endurance rallies than any other Canadian, but he has pulled out of the 2012 Dakar rally after a freak accident on his farm pre-empted his fourth attempt to complete the pinnacle of rally racing.
It happened on Christmas Day, 48 hours before he was to travel to Buenos Aries for the Jan. 1 start of the gruelling 15-day, 8,000-kilometre off-road race. He was moving hay on his farm near Duncan, B.C., when the trailer collapsed. A 1,500-pound round bale struck him, separating his shoulder, damaging tendons, and leaving him unable to ride.
"For the next few weeks I will feel sorry for myself, lick my wounds," Hatton said.
Although he's completed just about every other major endurance motorcycle rally in the world, his life-long dream of completing the Dakar has seemed cursed from the beginning. On his first attempt in 2008, the race was cancelled one day before the start due to terrorist threats. On his second attempt in 2009, he nearly died in a spectacular crash a few days into the race. Mechanic issues ended his third attempt in 2010 before the halfway mark. He took a break in 2011, but overcame financial struggles and reluctance from his wife to enter the 2012 race.
The doctor told him he'll be able to ride his motorcycle again in six to eight weeks, but the damage to his spirit may be longer lasting. In an interview before Sunday's accident, he said he wouldn't stop trying until he'd finished the Dakar. Now, he's not so sure.
"I will participate in other rallies, however, I need to decide if I want to make another attempt at the Dakar," he said. "Even I am beginning to believe there is a message in this."