Dakar legend Chagin innocent of French racer death - commission

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, June 19 (RIA Novosti) - A commission set up to investigate the tragic death of a French motorcyclist during the Transoriental Rally event ruled on Thursday that Russia's Team Kamaz was not to blame for the incident.

French motorcyclist Philippe Tonin was killed on Tuesday after his KTM bike was hit by a Kamaz truck, piloted by five times Dakar Rally Champion Vladimir Chagin of Russia, on the sixth stage of the 17-day rally marathon between Qaratubak and Torgai in Kazakhstan.

"The commission reached the verdict that it sees no guilt in the actions of Vladimir Chagin's crew," the Kamaz Team website said in a statement.

According to the investigation, Chagin's Kamaz caught up with the French racer, who ignored signals given by Chagin that he intended to pass him. The track was turning left and the Russian decided to pass the motorcyclist on the right and later return to the track, but Tonin all of a sudden also veered right.

The team also said in a statement that it viewed the death as a tragedy - the first in the team's 20-year history of participation in various rally events. Chagin and the whole team expressed their condolences to Tonin's relatives and friends.

The Transoriental Rally event began on June 12 in Russia's St. Petersburg and is scheduled to finish on June 28 in China's Beijing. In all, 300 racers from 25 countries are taking part in the event.

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