30-odd vehicles will be on the start line of the inaugural edition of the Dakar Classic, a regularity race for cars and trucks from the 1980s and 1990s. From now on, the passionate fans of historic vehicles will be part of the adventure too, while new images of a spectacular Buggy Sunhill and genuine Range Rover V8s criss-crossing the desert will be a throwback to a bygone age.

MOTORSPORT - RAID 1980 - PARIS ALGER DAKAR - PHOTO : DPPI CAR - N∞137 - FREDDY KOTTULINSKY (CH) - GERD LOFFELMAN / VOLKSWAGEN ILTIS - ACTION - WINNER
MOTORSPORT - RAID 1980 - PARIS ALGER DAKAR - PHOTO : DPPI CAR - N∞137 - FREDDY KOTTULINSKY (CH) - GERD LOFFELMAN / VOLKSWAGEN ILTIS - ACTION - WINNER
PARIS DAKAR 1993 - PHOTO: DPPI
SABY / MITSUBISHI PAJERO
PARIS DAKAR 1993 - PHOTO: DPPI SABY / MITSUBISHI PAJERO

Legends out of time

The Dakar of the 1980s and 1990s was packed with images and stories that forged the DNA of the event. Although these historic vehicles are no longer competitive, they still have a lot to say and are now poised to step back into the ring to tackle the Saudi deserts in a regularity race. Every day, a classification will be drawn up based on compliance with the average speeds established for each of several areas according to meticulous criteria and the type of terrain. The "Classic" vehicles will be racing with the clock, not against it.

A tailored route

A dedicated Dakar Classic reconnaissance team, led by Yves Loubet, a specialist in historic vehicles, and Alain Lopes, who raced as a co-driver in the 1980s, designed a 12-stage route to be held in parallel with the route of the Dakar with an individual stage length of 200 to 300 km. The difficulties on the course take into account the power and technical characteristics of the vehicles to avoid mechanical problems and overheating engines. Dunes will be few and far between, but there will be sandy sections that could put the least experienced two-wheel drive competitors in a bind.

On the road with the top drivers

The past and the present will come together every day as "Classic" drivers are given starter’s orders interspersed with the likes of Nasser Al-Attiyah, Stéphane Peterhansel, Carlos Sainz and Sébastien Loeb. For example, both categories will tackle part of the road section together before going their separate ways.

An old-timey bivouac in Sakaka

The 20th-century vehicles will also relive the minimalist atmosphere of the African bivouacs of the 1980s during the Sakaka marathon stage, where a remote bivouac will be set up especially for them. Spartan accommodation, the warmth of a camp fire and old memories await…