The scent of adventure: the Dakar Rally
Some competitions change the face of motor sport forever. The Dakar Rally is undeniably one of them. Every year since 1978, this legendary contest has laid on a race covering several thousand kilometres, where driver and machine become one in the face of adversity.
In 2024, is paying tribute to the Dakar Rally with a unique display of the competition's leading cars and motorbikes. For the occasion, and with the support of ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation - organiser of the Dakar Rally), the Mecca of vintage vehicles will play host to some of the cars and bikes that left their mark on the history of the Dakar Rally: Cyril Neveu's Yamaha XT500, the brothers' Renault 4L, a Porsche 959 specially adapted for the competition, and the Nissan X-Trail driven by Johnny Hallyday and René Metge in the 2002 race.
Dakar Rally: itinerary of a one-of-a-kind race
The history of the Dakar rally is inseparable from that of its creator: Thierry Sabine. An enthusiast of races and vehicles of all kinds, the young driver quickly made a name for himself in the world of motor sport before creating his own competition in Le Touquet in 1975. However, it was not until 1977 and his participation in the Abidjan-Nice rally that the history of the Dakar Rally began to take shape. While criss-crossing the tracks and deserts of Africa, the rider was forced to abandon his motorbike (an XT 500 which was not found until 1986) and the race following an accident. Having fallen in love with the African continent, and undaunted by the previous year's incident, Thierry Sabine assembled a team of enthusiasts and returned to the continent. The watchwords: adventure, discovery and sharing. Without realising it, he had just spawned one of the world's most emblematic races.
The first Paris-Dakar set off on 26 December 1978. The starting line in Paris attracted no fewer than 200 competitors in all categories (cars, motorbikes, trucks, etc.), but only 72 of them would succeed in reaching the Senegalese capital. At the end of the 20 days of competition and a route covering almost 10,000 kilometres, the combined car-motorcycle classification was topped by Cyril Neveu and his Yamaha XT500. He would repeat the feat the following year. Thereafter, many amateurs took part in the challenges. Among the most famous were the actor Claude Brasseur, Prince Albert of Monaco and a certain Johnny Hallyday... Car manufacturers also joined in: Porsche and its versions of the 911 and 959, Peugeot and its 205 and 405 Turbo 16, Citroën and its ZX Grand Raid... all of them taking a close interest this competition represents.
On 14 January 1986, the Dakar would become an orphan. Thierry Sabine, the father of the Dakar, lost his life in a helicopter accident. Deprived of his guide, the Paris-Dakar adventure nevertheless continued with Gilbert, Thierry's father. Under his leadership, the race never ceased to evolve and reinvent itself: arrival in Cape Town in 1992, departure from Arras in 2002, transfer to South America in 2009 and then Saudi Arabia from 2020... New scenery, new drivers, but a passion that remained unchanged.
In 2024, just a few weeks after the launch of the 46th edition of the Dakar Rally, will host a unique exhibit recounting the story of this most exceptional race. Coming up: legendary vehicles, emblematic drivers and previously unpublished anecdotes.