In its first edition, the “Dakar Classic” category attracted 24 vehicles from before the year 2000, whose drivers were able to rediscover the feeling of being rally-raid pioneers on the Saudi tracks. Images of a VW Beetle, a Peugeot 504, a Porsche 911 and Sunhill buggies also stole the show on TV and on social networks. The “Classic”: back to the future.

© A.S.O./Fotop/Gustavo Epifanio
© A.S.O./Fotop/Gustavo Epifanio

Year 1: when the old-timers become the stars...

From Bisha to AlUla, by way of Neom and Ha’il, the 2021 Dakar bivouacs also cheered on the “Classic” drivers as they arrived. Even without spectators or guests, the vehicles from the first era of the Dakar are piquing curiosity, and their drivers can talk about them with real passion. A social media and selfie star, the Porsche 911 driven by Amy Lerner, may have won the popularity race, but it was outperformed by Marc Douton’s Sunhill buggy in the official regularity rankings, whose design also won over extravagant car enthusiasts.

A “Classic” future

The craze generated by the reappearance of 20th century cars on the “big screen” has given vintage vehicle specialists motivation and ideas. They are currently in their workshops preparing to get 4x4s, which have driven on a limited number of terrains in recent years, back on the Dakar tracks. With a “Classic” peloton which could double in volume and gain some real gems with a lot of sentimental value, the category will also undergo some regulatory adjustments. Regularity will no longer be the only evaluation criteria. On some sections representing about 20% of the course, only navigation will be judged: there will be no stopwatch, and each excess kilometre covered will cost the drivers points.