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Dakar Rally Video Retrospective

Submitted by on January 14, 2010

I have found some videos to go with the excellent and informative retro piece on the history of the Dakar Rally over on the official Dakar site.

Below I have quoted verbatim the blurb, which covers the inaugural event in 1979 through to the drama filled 80s. It peaks with the tragedy in 1986 which killed event founder, the legendary, Thierry Sabine.

Sabine coined a motto for his inspiration: “A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind.”

“1979 : All together at the Trocadero

Thierry Sabine’s gamble took shape on 26 December 1978, as 182 vehicles turned up in the Place du Trocadéro for a 10,000-kilometre journey into the unknown, destination Dakar. The encounter between two worlds sought by the event’s founder unfolded on the African continent. Among the 74 trail-blazers who made it to the Senegalese capital, Cyril Neveu, at the handlebars of a Yamaha 500 XT, wrote the opening entry on the honours list of the greatest rally in the world.

1981 : Ordinary adventurers

The Paris-Dakar rapidly won over the public, fascinated by these ordinary adventurers defying the desert with limited resources. Yamahas and Hondas “cobbled together at the back of the garage” rubbed shoulders with Thierry de Montcorgé’s Rolls-Royce and the Citroen CX of the F1 driver Jacky Ickx, accompanied by Claude Brasseur. Hubert Auriol, already nicknamed “the African”, won his first Dakar.

1983 : Welcome to the Tenere

The first visit to the Tenere desert was as astounding as it was terrifying. The competitors found themselves plunged into an interminable sandstorm which caused no less than 40 drivers to lose their bearings. Those who strayed furthest had to spend as much as four days getting back on course. The legend of the Dakar was underway.

1986 : The black year

Thierry Sabine, French singer Daniel Balavoine, journalist Nathaly Odent, pilot François Xavier-Bagnoud and radio technician Jean-Paul Le Fur all met their deaths in a helicopter accident. Thierry Sabine’s ashes were scattered in the desert and his father Gilbert, aided by Patrick Verdoy, took over the helm. The race went on but no one’s heart was really in it.

1988 : Peugeot prevails again

Over 600 vehicles started out from Versailles. Peugeot, which had made a successful debut the previous year, set out to defend its title. But Ari Vatanen, having led the rally at Bamako, was at the centre of a shock when his 405 Turbo 16 was stolen and then found too late to continue. The lion brand triumphed nevertheless, courtesy of his compatriot Juha Kankunnen.”

The full story can be found at the official Dakar website in both web and PDF formats. The longer PDF version contains a stunning and comprehensive account of the race’s history.

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