2003: Vatanen and Kleinschmidt… drowned (12/40)


Edition 40 is approaching… a look back at 40 episodes with the most memorable images in the history of the Dakar.

On the first major African stage of the 2003 Dakar, in Tunisia between Tozeur and El Borma, the battle for the title was a Mitsubishi in-house affair between Masuoka and Peterhansel. Further back, the adversaries were hanging on, with Nissan, who coaxed Ari Vatanen out of retirement, and Volkswagen, which brought on Jutta Kleinschmidt for the beginning of its rally-raid involvement. And it was these two 4x4s that got caught out in the high water and were found stopped in a very deep ford. Far from victory this time, the Finn all the same managed to win four stages in the second half of the rally on dry terrain. At Sharm-El-Sheikh, Vatanen and Kleinschmidt finished 7th and 8th respectively in the general classification.

Al Qassimi to race a Peugeot 3008


Khalid Al Qassimi will drive a Team Abu Dhabi Racing prepared Peugeot 3008 DKR in his second Dakar participation. The driver from the United Arab Emirates, who won the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge this year, has an opportunity to join the very best of the discipline.

“I come from the desert so I am obviously thrilled about spending seven days in the dunes”, immediately warns Khalid al Qassimi as he looks forward to the 2018 Dakar and in particular to the first week of competition that will take place in Peru on a terrain he particularly likes. When he was growing up, Khalid spent most of his free time surfing the dunes of his father's camel farm some 250 kilometres from Abu Dhabi in a buggy, on a quad or on a motorcycle. A few decades later, his driving skills are finely honed and after having taken part in over 30 rounds of the WRC, the UAE native decided to take on the Dakar. His first experience last January showed both his potential and limitations after he retired from the rally on stage 11… while in 10th place in the general classification. Al Qassimi raced the 2008 DKR and now he will have Peugeot's latest rally-raid creation, the 3008 DKR Maxi, which is the same car that will be raced by Peterhansel and Loeb but prepared by the PH Sport team. This is an exciting but also an apprehensive time for the rally-raid newcomer, who has brought in Xavier Panseri as his co-driver. “This is a new rally-route, with a new car and a new co-driver. Most importantly, we must not get lost and pay attention on the narrow tracks because of the rather large size of the Maxi. But I hope to be the big surprise of the rally”.

1992: when the Dakar took on water! (11/40)


Edition 40 is approaching… a look back at 40 episodes with the most memorable images in the history of the Dakar.

For the first time in its history, the Paris-Dakar crossed the equator for this edition that led the competitors to the southern tip of the African Continent, with the finish line situated in Cape Town, South Africa. In the late stages of this edition, the rally continued on with a collective heavy heart following the death of Gilles Lalay, who was killed in a road accident on a liaison sector in the Congo. A few days later in Namibia, the race was blocked in the middle of a stage by a rising river. The first to arrive at the spot, like Stéphane Peterhansel, tried their luck and just barely made their way out. But it wasn't the case for American Danny Laporte on his Cagiva, that had to be pulled from the river by Gilbert Sabine's helicopter, who decided to neutralize the race.

Nicolás Fuchs, back on the Dakar with Borgward


Following a 12th place in 2017, Peru's top rally driver will return to the Dakar in a BX7 conceived and developed by the German brand Borgward.

Nicolás Fuchs was one the 2017 Dakar car category revelations. While already being a well-known name in traditional rally competition, thanks mostly to his 2013 WRC2 title, the Dakar newcomer caused quite a stir in finishing 12th overall. The promising future rally-raid star was followed closely by the fans who will host the start of the Dakar, which will begin in Lima on January 6th. This year, Nicolás Fuchs will drive for the German constructor Borgward in his attempt to compete against the Peugeot, Toyota and Mini teams right from the opening stage, which will be held in his home country. For the German team, which is better known for its endurance racing exploits from back in the 1950's (24 Hours of Le Mans, etc…), this will be a return to racing at the highest level. It will entrust the BX7 to Nicolás Fuchs and Fernando Mussano to make its name in the world of rally-raiding.

2012: Despres, in a spot of bother (10/40)


Edition 40 is approaching… a look back at 40 episodes with the most memorable images in the history of the Dakar.

They all knew the rule: on a 9,000km course, any momentary loss of concentration can ruin a competitor's chance of victory. This wasn't the case with Cyril Despres, who made the most of a time compensation given to a number of unlucky riders who lost precious minutes in this nasty mud hole between Copiapo and Antofagasta in Chile. But in this episode, the Frenchman lost the lead in the general classification and was 1:26s behind rival Marc Coma. The duo continued their royal battle just until the day before the finish when the Spaniard was slowed by gearbox problems. In Lima, Despres clinched his four Dakar title.

2004: The crazy kids of Bobo (9/40)


Edition 40 is approaching… a look back at 40 episodes with the most memorable images in the history of the Dakar.

The Dakar is much more than just a race. Long before the aficionados that enthusiastically welcomed the participants in South America, the Africans also fervently greeted the passing of the rally. At the cultural capital of Burkina-Faso, Bobo-Dioulasso, the Ramo, a traditional moped race featuring the most reckless riders of the country, changed dates so it could be held during the Dakar rest day. The skills of the kids of Ouaga and Bobo in the streets of the city, at more than 100kph with their tiny 50cc engines, rivalled those of Joan “Nani” Roma, who was riding his way to his one and only Dakar motorcycle category victory.

1996: Saby, the big scare (8/40)


Edition 40 is approaching… a look back at 40 episodes with the most memorable images in the history of the Dakar.

In the car category, the Citroën and Mitsubishi teams shared the spoils in the 1990's. The former world rally-raid champion and winner of the 1993 Dakar, Bruno Saby was part of the Japanese squad entered to take on the leaders of the French team, Pierre Lartigue and Ari Vatanen. But from the third Moroccan stage heading towards Smara, Saby's Pajero 4x4 went out of control, flipped and landed on its wheels. The duo of Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys escaped uninjured and continued on their way to Dakar… but in 7th place in the general classification.

2010: Copiapo, just like at Lake Rose (7/40)


Edition 40 is approaching… a look back at 40 episodes with the most memorable images in the history of the Dakar.

With the arrival of the Dakar in South America, the rally discovered the Atacama Desert, which rivals the aridness of the Sahara and offers the drivers some of the most extraordinary dunes in the world. Located at the bottom of a basin, the Copiapo bivouac ideally lent itself to a mass start for the motorcycles, in step with the Dakar tradition that was employed for the Lake Rose final stage. In 2010, during the heyday of the Marc Coma - Cyril Despres rivalry, the Spaniard sped off from this prestigious start to win the 10th stage of his career. But at the finish in Buenos Aires, it was the Frenchman who went up 3-2 in overall victories.

1983: Stormy times in the Ténéré (6/40)


Edition 40 is approaching… a look back at 40 episodes with the most memorable images in the history of the Dakar.

A wave of panic blew over the Dakar and in particular the Ténéré Desert, as reported by L'Equipe's correspondent in Agadez, where the bikes and cars crossed the finishing line in dribs and drabs at the end of the 9th stage. The day had started in normal conditions for the riders and drivers, but after a few dozen kilometres, the wind and sand transformed the horizon into a blur, making navigation almost impossible. “It was total and utter luck that I chanced upon the Ténéré Tree,” where the refuelling truck was located, explained for example Philippe Drobecq, who was luckier than other competitors, some of whom remained lost for almost four days. The next morning, Thierry Sabine had to struggle between searching for the lost competitors, including swimming champion Christine Caron, and the mechanical problems preventing the organiser's two helicopters from taking off. He was forced to cancel the following stage for the bikes.

1987: the Neveu-Auriol duel (5/40)


Edition 40 is approaching… a look back at 40 episodes with the most memorable images in the history of the Dakar.

Cyril Neveu for Honda and Hubert Auriol on a Cagiva were the two main favourites for the 1987 edition in the bike category. In the overall rally roll of honour, the man nicknamed "The African” and a two times winner behind the handlebars of a BMW was hot on the heels of Neveu, who boasted four titles including the very first edition. However, this year, Auriol took the lead, won four stages and opened up a gap on his rival, who nonetheless was not giving up without a fight. The day before the finish of the rally, he again dominated the general standings by hurtling out of the starting blocks along the tracks leading to Saint-Louis. His dreams of victory were crushed by a fall only 20 kilometres from the finishing line. Due to the violence of the crash, Auriol broke both ankles, but dug deep to find the courage to climb back onto his bike and reach the end of the stage before officially withdrawing from the race, paying tribute to an equally shocked Neveu: “Cyril is the best. I'm giving up biking”. After his recovery and ensuing reconversion, in 1992, he became the first competitor to win the car category after having won on two wheels.