Old-fashioned mishaps and miracles in the desert

Dakar 2023 | Stage 5 | AL-HOFUF > SHUBAYTAH
January 5 th 2023 - 11:41 [GMT + 3]

Christophe d'Indy and François-Xavier Bourgois are giving a second chance to a Peugeot 504 that did not fare well in its first Dakar Classic last year. This time, luck seems to be on their side, and they are both enjoying themselves.

 At the bivouac in Ha’il, the Peugeot 504 numbered 726 awaits in the heart of the Logistic Rally team's open-air workshop, ready to tackle the fifth stage of the Dakar Classic. Its co-pilot François-Xavier Bourgois, who is also the man backing this adventure, wears a contented smile after this start to the rally which contrasts with the bitter experience of 2022, when his little 1970s gem ended the rally split in two. “This year she is hanging in there, due to better preparations,” he explained. “The bodywork is in good condition, but we had a little scare with the engine. We broke a cylinder head gasket and when we started to repair we noticed the base of one of the gaskets was done for. Obviously, we didn’t have a spare, but the miracle of the Dakar worked. We met a Saudi who knew a garage owner, who came 250 kilometres to open up his workshop. Then, from the middle of nowhere, he found a Toyota gasket which he managed to fit on our Peugeot engine and we were able to resume the race the next day!”

After all, the interest of the Dakar Classic is not limited to the passion for historic vehicles. Like François-Xavier, all the participants in this third edition have also come to experience the thrill of the 1980s. “I feel like I am reliving the images of the Dakar that I saw when I was a kid. Like the Marreau brothers in the middle of the desert in their Renault 4L, I’m feeling the same thing. You have to improvise: you know you are going to get into trouble, but you don’t know exactly how. Yesterday’s conditions were hellish, especially when we had to cross the rivers. It was like the Bandama era, we had water in the car. I was freezing cold, but it was great fun. That’s what I came here for: to go as far as I can through this country and as far as I can to my limits, through moments of deep despair and immense joy. And I’ve already found all that in just four stages”. The “Classic” spirit is indeed well embedded on the bivouac, meeting the expectations of mechanical and history enthusiasts like François-Xavier: “It's what I've been waiting for. I still have a dream to accomplish, which is that the start will take place in Paris at the Trocadero or on the esplanade in front of the Château de Versailles”. Message received and understood.

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