Argentinian motorcyclist Jorge Martinez Boero has died after a crash on today's opening stage of the Dakar Rally.

The 38-year-old, who was competing in the event for only the second time, fell during the stage between the Argentinian cities of Mar del Plata and Santa Rosa and suffered a cardiac arrest.

A statement on the rally's official website confirmed that medical staff reached him by helicopter five minutes later but Boero died on his way to a hospital.

The statement concluded: "The organisers of the rally offer their heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones."

Chile's Francisco Lopez heads the motorcycle standings after the first stage, having had to battle back from multiple fractures sustained in the Rally of Tunisia to even take the start line. Marc Coma and Javier Pizzolito complete the podium on two wheels.

Leonid Novitskiy leads the car category ahead of Mini team-mates Krzysztof Holowczyc and Stephane Peterhansel, while Sergio La Fuente leads the quad standings and Marcel van Vliet the truck category.