The 1980 Paris-Dakar from behind the handlebars of a Vespa
The Dakar rally is probably the most gruelling and dangerous motor race in the world. Motorcycles, cars, quad bikes and trucks compete, not so much with each other, but with the race itself, to survive each year’s course. Competitors slog through each mile in danger of serious injury and death.
In 1980 a French team of 4 riders, put together by Jean-Francois Piot, decided that this all sounded wonderful and that they would enter the race. On their Vespas.
So on the first of January, 1980, these brave (mad) riders set out with 211 other cars, bikes and trucks. On the 23rd of January M. Simonot and B. Tcherniawsky were amongst the 81 competitors to make it into Dakar and cross the finish line, having ridden their Vespa PX 200s from Paris to Dakar, across 7 countries and 10, 000km of brutal terrain.
Maybe they weren’t so crazy after all. Two out of four Vespas finished the race (50%), while only 79 out of 211 other vehicles crossed the finish line (37%).
So if you are planning on tackling the Dakar rally, do it on a Vespa!