In memory of Hubert Auriol

Taken from GPONE the memory of Carlo Pernat

“Hubert Auriol was a gentleman and a friend, a person who taught me so much, especially in external relations. He was always smiling and with the joke ready”. Carlo Pernat remembers the king of the Dakar, the first rider to have won it both on a motorcycle and in a car. One of the myths of that raid surrounded by legend.

The relationship between Pernat and Auriol had not only been professional, on the slopes of Africa was born a friendship that lasted over the years. “I was in Aprilia when and I had been invited to a TV show in Paris, the Monday after the Le Mans Grand Prix – says Carlo – Finished recording, were towards the 23, it occurred to us to call Hubert to go and eat something all together, in those days had a restaurant. He replied that he was already in bed, he got dressed and came with boredom to eat a pizza”.

Their relationship began when the French rider was hired by Cagiva to race the Dakar.

“They introduced me to Auriol ne1 1985. It was already a myth and was important to get sponsorships – continue Pernat – I remember Ligier telling me to go to the Tour Elf in Paris, guaranteeing us that they would give us the money for sponsorship. I didn't believe it, but we went: they offered us lunch and then we went to the private cinema to see footage of the Dakar. Finally they told me: here is a billion for the race. It was thanks to Hubert that we got them”.

Hubert, born in Addis Ababa, he knew the secrets of Africa and jealously costudied them. ” His ace up his sleeve was Mauritania, although I never understood why – confesses Pernat – Practically there, in each stage, had half an hour advantage over all. I asked him how he did it and he replied that he followed the tracks of the animals”.


The adventure with the Cagiva lasted 3 years, but fate would have it that it was not crowned with success. In 1987 faded when it seemed obvious. “We had practically already won the Dakar, we had an hour and a half of advantage at the beginning of the last stage, which is usually a boardwalk on Lake Rosa – the memory of that day is still vivid in Carlo's mind – Everything was born the night before at the bivouac. During the last stage we passed on disused rails and Roberto Azzalin, the crew chief, and Auriol argued over whether or not to use tire mousses. I don't remember what they decided, but that it was Hubert who won it, but then during the stage he drilled 3 times”.

The bad luck was not over.

“He then told me that he had beaten with his ankle against a kind of hidden sapling, on the other side there was a stone and went to slam even against that. The two ankles were open, we couldn't even take off their boots, I never understood how he managed to drive for others 30 kilometers in those conditions. One thing has been particularly impressed on me. We had loaded him on the helicopter that would take him to the airport from which he would then leave for France.. Hubert cried and repeated to me: “by’ in Castiglioni that we beat honda”.
That was one of the few times in my life when I couldn't hold back my tears.

Even after that defeat, Hubert didn't break down.

“Auriol was very professional. Claudio arranged a private flight to Paris with some journalists to visit him in the hospital. Hubert received us with the team shirt, not with the gown. He is one of the people who have counted the most in my life and career, I learned so much from him’ concludes Pernat”.



February 8 2005 Gaston Rahier passed away. A champion small in stature but great in talent and numbers. 'Le petit Gaston' was a multi-purpose pilot, able to triumph in the most famous off-road competitions. From 1975 at 1977 obtained the trio world championship in the Cross World Championship 125 Dominating, far and wide, riding the Suzuki.

In 1978 lost the title to japan's Akira Watanabe. The following year he joined Yamaha, but he couldn't do better than the final third place. The 1980 he saw it happen to the Gilera. In the debut season with the Italian manufacturer, affixed his last signature in a GP. On the Yugoslav track of Trzic he obtained, In fact, absolute success thanks to a second and a first place. He stopped at 29 successes in the eighth of a liter, a record that will last until the last year of existence of the minor class, before the advent of the new categories.

Rahier 1984-2

In 1982 returned to Suzuki, but it was also the year that sanctioned his farewell to Motocross. A serious hand injury sustained during the World Cup 250 did not decree, Anyway, the end of his sporting career, because shortly thereafter he embarked on the adventure at the Paris-Dakar. Riding the BMW, in the two-year period 1984-1985 the Flemish hit the big target, entering once again in the legend. But Gaston didn't feel full enough. At that point he put the Rally of the Pharaohs in his sights..

Also on that occasion he returned to his homeland victorious, winning the edition 1988. A new incredible goal that further enriched his palmares, already vast like few others. Among the various Titles, we must not forget the successes he achieved with the Belgian Team at the Motocross of Nations 1976 and the Trophy of Nations in four editions. The passion for two clawed wheels accompanied him until the last day of his existence.

Seventeen years ago Gaston Rahier passed away defeated by cancer, in 58 years, leaving a void that persists with intensity even today. Many enthusiasts continue to remember it, to keep alive the memory of a man who dedicated his life to off-road, marking this world forever.

Scan 32

DAKAR 1987 | From cross to the charm of the desert

Already in previous years Michele Rinaldi had launched the intention to participate in the Dakar, attracted by the charm that surrounds this race but above all by the possibility of "living" it, in the few free moments, in close contact with all other participants. Rinaldi had even come to hypothesize his participation in the role of the private pilot, despite being used to playing the role of the "super official" in the cross.




From Suzuki, Instead, during the autumn he received the proposal to participate with bikes and official assistance in the team set up in France by the Joineau brothers. "It was Suzuki that asked for it – says the former world champion – since they know my desire to participate and want to try to face the competition that has found great commercial outlets from these races ».



Have you already had some driving experience in Africa?
"Only during some tests in Tunisia. The biggest problem, apart from orientation, comes from the weight and speed of the bike. When you accelerate on the sand it drifts from all sides and it takes good muscles to hold on to a bike that weighs almost twice as much as the cross bike. To get used to it every day I did some training together with Balestrieri, once even at night. Anyway the Suzuki 651 even if it has been prepared well, it is not a winning bike against the various multi-cylinder bikes and even I do not feel able to aspire to success».



How the Suzuki was changed compared to the production model?
"The chassis is standard. The fork and the monoshock system have been changed. On the engine there is a new head, cylinder and muffler to bring the displacement to 651 CC, moreover the cooling is oil as on the Suzuki road and no longer air ».

Quercioli 1991

DAKAR 1991 | Claudio Quercioli, see Africa and then… Back

Claudio Quercioli he can't say he didn't arrive in Africa, but it went a little further. His race ended halfway through the first transfer, with a seizure that forced him to make the last 160 km towing. The replacement engine has not even been unloaded from the service truck: the next morning he left at a low pace, escorted by a Libyan police car, to return to Tripoli.

"I finished the stage pulled by Savi's truck, also taking a big risk traveling to 110 km/h at night, in those conditions and above all I passed the check on arrival, while the regulation provides that this takes place with the engine running. At the bivouac I unlocked the engine with the starting lever, and I discovered that I had seized because the oil was finished. Unfortunately, even the spare engine that already has several kilo-meters on its shoulders could not have resisted.: I had brought it in case it was necessary to take away the bike after a break in the desert, but we don't talk about doing the whole race».

It is the second retreat for Quercioli, that already last year he was forced to abandon after a daring affair: readmitted to the race thanks to the Italian jury member after the commissioners had prevented him from taking the start, he broke twice the truck with which he was returning to take the bike left to Agadez and could not recover it in time. "I'll be back at the Dakar, but only if I can have a team, so you can just drive. I had to give up already after last year, but doing it is beautiful. I gladly make the sacrifices that are necessary to get started; it's when things like today's happen to me that I don't enjoy it anymore. But it makes me laugh if I think that in February I will return the desire to participate in it ».

1985-1 rahier

Dakar 1985 | Rahier and Picco tell each other

The Long Beards, the faces dug, the reddish powder stuck on him, the recessed eyes, hands with huge calluses, dirty bikes, unpainted, Welded, patched up. Paris-Dakar veterans look like this on saly-portudal beach, 80 kilometers from the finish, the night before the big arrival on the ocean wetdry of the Senegalese capital.


The great adventure is almost over. The real heroes are the bikers, arrived in about thirty of the 180 who were — among the survivors also six Italians: Peak Three, Marinoni fourth, Zanichelli 13°, Crossbowmen then disqualified for being towed in the last stage together with Gagliotti - Wikipedia and Gauri. As soon as they arrive they look like scary ghosts, they look like corpses riding motorcycles. Those who have slept for 22 nights on average three to four hours each time and drove for twelve hours, Thirteen, fourteen or even more, in the middle of the desert or on the dangerous clay tracks.

Winning the Paris-Dakar, says rahier, it's nicer than conquering a world cross. Peak: 'The French didn't want an Italian winner'.

They're tired on the edge of collapse. Just one night, though, spent by the sea, just a five- or six-hour sleeper, just the almost certainty that we've made it to review, the morning after, of human beings again, people who gladly and without arrogance, at least among motorcyclists, your own adventure. Gaston Rahier he's a blond Belgian, small little with coffees neither long nor short, and nice: looks like the comic book asterix. And’ him who won, riding the bmw mammoth. He made it for the second year in a row, bingeing the first place just when he seemed inevitably defeated by our Franco Picco. "Winning a Paris-Dakar, " said Rahier, two-time motocross world champion — it's nicer than winning in the cross.

1985-2 rahier

To get to this beach you must have spat blood. Here more than the bike is the man who wins, in the cross instead motion and assistance are too important. This test is nice because here all bikers have the same problem, that is, they are alone, in the desert or in a forest, so there is solidarity among all, you help each other, you try to be together. With Peak, that I've known since the cross, we're really friends, we've come a long way together.. We find that Rahier's official BMW has changed a lot compared to the previous edition. "Bmw has done a lot of work on the bike," Rahier replies.. The engine today has more torque, the best seal frame, suspensions work more effectively and the whole thing is lighter". Ten meters from the winner lying on the sand together with other Italians here is the defeated, i.e. Franco Picco.


And’ with teammate Marinoni, with the two honda-italia drivers Balestrieri and Zanichelli, with private Gualini. I'm waiting to face the last effort, but the refreshing wind and ocean view has already transformed them compared to the previous evening. We ask Picco where he lost the race. "I would say — replies our interlocutor — that I lost it in Kiffa, the day I got lost together with Rahier. And’ happened because Auriol had lost a platform and had stopped to replace it. If I had followed Auriol, i wouldn't have missed it because he, the 'desert fox', never gets it wrong, while Rahier has less sense of orientation. But there more than the first I lost the second place because losing we allowed others to come under..

But when he believed he had won? "In Tichit, — Picco replies — when they have re-made the ranking three times. The first time They had given me 44 minutes ahead of Rahier, the second my advantage had been reduced to 23 minutes and the third they had placed me in second place less than seven minutes. I was sure I had arrived in time to check, Instead, then, they said it wasn't so. I felt for a moment de-stolen of victory. I thought it wasn't nice to treat myself like that.. Anyway, even third okay, Via! I think the French were bore bore that an Italian was the winner., One, then, arrived for the first vol-ta. Already arriving in Dakar, Believe, it's a big satisfaction. And’ so beautiful that when there are concomitances between cross-country races and African races I will choose Africa".


So these French people made it a little bit’ Dirty? "It clearly bothered them," picco says, "that it was an Italian who won.. When in the Ténéré I started in the lead they said “who starts in front here you lose” and instead they came-to just 11 minutes from Rahier. I held on and then everyone was amazed and even pre-occupied. From then on they kept a special eye on us and we had to give up assistance because our vehicles were out of the race and only those who are still in the running can assist. One hand, though, the damage to all even the vehicles out of the race, though, to us has been banned more than others. Good thing they helped us a little’ the French of Sonauto-Yamaha ».

What was the most difficult stretch? "There was the myth of the Ténéré desert," says Picco, "but mauritania's desert is worse: Here, the sand is very fine, like water, submerges everything. And even the hard tracks of the final stages were terrible. The third final stage involved crossing a forest following the, so it was written on the “road-book property”, the footprints and tracks of animals, too bad only that of the tracks there in the middle there will have been twenty thousand and all tight for a motorcycle, let's imagine for cars and trucks".


In such a race, what are the problems of navigation and orientation? "I had participated in the Pharaohs Rally," says Picco, "and I had made a mistake and learned, so I had decided to follow the “road-book property”, instinct and, if you could, Auriol, that's all.". The illusion of making it for Picco is over after being in charge of the race for a long time, for the pilo-ti of the Honda-Italia team, Instead, much earlier. Crossbowmen and Zanichelli blamed technical woes and bad luck, while demonstrating, as pilots, to be at the level of the best. Zanichelli came to an end with his left foot destroyed. Balestrieri was disqualified for being towed a few kilometers before Dakar when he was forced to end up at sea to avoid indigenous children too warm and the organization noticed and was inflexible as it was for Gagliotti and Gualini.

Taken from Motorcycling March 1985


Cyril Despres, the career of a Dakarian myth

With his fifth win at the Dakar Cyril Despres ranks among the first rallyers of all time and in fact as one of the greatest drivers ever. Some say it is the natural successor of Stéphane Peterhansel and his exploits are useful for the extraordinary athlete and man who lies under that helmet often covered by sand or mud. A professional of the highest level and unique sample that in recent years in thirteen participations in the Dakar has conquered 5 WINS, 5 second place finishes and two thirds.
Nevertheless Despres Dakar but a rider who has not only embarked in almost every rally, often won, But even extreme enduro events (victorious in two editions of the Erzbergrodeo).

Cyril was born on 24 January 1974 in Fontainbleau, the nfanza is serene without any fans of two wheels able to transmit to him "the disease of the piece" until his parents move to Nemours and become friends with Couturier Pascal, trial sample. In 13 When his peers to receive the traditional communion crosses, chains and bracelets so dear to the Catholic tradition, He can receive envelopes with money totalling about 4000 Franks (600 Euro) that immediately will mutate in a Fantic Moto Trial 80, that bike that is now exposed in the living room of the House where he lives with his family.

With Pascal begins with the most demanding disciplines facing an Enduro from the physical point of view, requiring prcisione, Constance, skill, patience and strength.
His passion led him to work as a mechanic in a garage in Paris and the evening finished working hours preparing the bike that uses in its first enduro races. The debut came in 1998 in a national competition in Plomin and immediately WINS! A victory that galvanizes and immediately takes him to dream of the race that will give lots of emotions, the Dakar.

In 2000 with the support of his friend Michel Gau the Dakar project becomes concrete in the mind and in the will, the problem are the sponsors and budget. Sometimes more than the money need some ideas so with Michel after studying merchandising actions typical of Dakar decides to buy bottles of Bordeaux, Saint Chinian and Chablis and label them with the route of the Dakar. "We needed to 80 000 francs each. Thanks to year-end holidays, and especially considering it was the new year of the new Millennium, by selling the bottles to friends and businesses we were able to raise the funds to leave.. “


Unable to sign up and leave for the first Dakar in his life with a Honda 400 XR : "I had the first glimpse of the thrill of the open spaces in the desert. It was a revelation". A revelation accompanied by an incredible result, 16th overall and 2nd in its class.
Love for Africa is now shot, continue with what was left of the wine and with the support of some sponsors joined the Rally of Tunisia and scores first podium finishing in third place. Official teams notice him and in 2001 the call comes from BMW, It is now a factory rider.

In 2001 ends 12th of Dakar, scoring his first stage victory. The same year is second to the Gilles Lalay Classic and wins dubai's UAE Desert Challange. The following year repeating the success in Dubai, wins the Rally de La Pampas and the Erzberg in which private Honda puts lined up all the squadron KTM. This feat led him to make a deal with the House that will give all the most important achievements, the KTM.

2001-1 Despres

In 2003 the Dakar special won three and finished second, WINS again in Dubai and at the Erzberg, and with a second place finish in the Rally of Tunisia and won the Rally of Morocco won the World Rally Championship.


In 2004
Despite the four stage wins concludes the Dakar in third place, He won again the Optic 2000 (Rally of Tunisia), and the Red Bull Romaniacs in Romania, is third in the Rally of Morocco and according to Baja in Spain in Aragón.


In 2005 first victory of the Dakar "That day will remain etched in my memory forever. Win the world's toughest race, and podium surrounded by crowds Senegal -. Wow, that a great feeling".


The victory and the following months are a mix of emotions and moods because in a few months he lost teammates, friends and teachers who had taught him so much: Richard Sainct a few months before and Fabrizio Meoni died in the eleventh stage of that Dakar that had seen him triumph. Fabrizio was that after the death of Sainct died in the previous rally turned to Cheryl telling him that the best way to pay tribute to teammate was bringing a KTM to cross before the finish in Dakar.

With similar events that would upset anyone manages to surpass those days and 2006 ends according to Dakar with four stage wins and going to the podium in other Rally. In 2007 back to her the Dakar, starting the relay which will last until 2013 She wanted him and Coma alternating victories. In that same year wins Red Bull Romaniacs and conquer several second places in Baja races and rally.

depres 2006-3

Geopolitical problems on African soil prompt the unseeding of the edition of the 2008 and in this year he will win theUAE Rally Desert Challenge di Dubai and the Rally of Sardinia, In addition to the usual second places that alternates from year to year with victories.
With a new location at Dakar, South American land takes a second place behind than usual Marc Coma, wins the Rally of Morocco, of Tunisia and the Red Bull Los Andes, will be as per the UAE Desert Challange and third in the Rally of Morocco and the Red Bull Romaniacs. Will win this year, his second World Rally Championship.

He is preparing as world champion for yet another adventurer on South American soil but a few months before the start KTM decides to withdraw the official team from the edition 2010 following the decision of the organizers to restrict participation to a maximum displacement of 450 CC. "with Red Bull and KTM help we still formed our team". It was an incredible ride, he dominated the race from third day till the end, conquering with absolute supremacy his third Dakar.In the same year he won the Rally of Morocco and the Kenny Enduro, one extreme Enduro race, proving once again his ability to deal with extreme situations.

In 2011 is according to the Dakar, at Red Bull Los Andes and at the Rally of Sardinia, winning the Rally Dos Sertoes. We arrive to the years of double success already: 2012 (where he also won the Rally of Morocco and Desafio Litoral Argentina).
In 39 years on the eve of the Dakar 2013, despres just a win at the dakar to reach that myth that is pethersanel and it's sunny 4 stage wins for eguaglliarne the primacy (33 Petheransel and 29 He).
Ed: Despres will win the edition 2013 and came 4th in the edition 2014, his last motorcycle competition.

A pilot in his class, in his navigation skills and determination in facing extreme challenges is an example of how there are people who have a gift and are able to maximize it. His, to ride the bike in extreme conditions, He assisted and fed with a professionalism its only of the greatest athletes and sportsmen ever.

A man who still hasn't forgotten the passion of African origins and the magic of the Earth. That land in which today often travels to continue that activity conceived and built by his late teammate Mahroof.
Also why Despres is in fact one of the greatest of all time.

Edwards 1988-6

Edwards, the German of Bergamo

Born in 1957 in Bergamo, Franco Gualdi approached the world of motorcycles for the passion transmitted by his father who was riding Motobi, MV and Devil and so as a young man he took part in the very first regional enduro races. His biography tells of only two Dakar, one of which is not even finished and a solid career in the enduro.

He earned the nickname “The German of Bergamo”, for his impeccable guidance and for the precision with which he studied the routes. As a starting point for his professional career, eighteen-year-old, chose to join the Fiamme Oro group where he met Azzalin, also active in the same body, but with a few more years: when Gualdi came in, Azzalin was one of the “Old” who were stopping running.

Franco made his first races with Sachs, from 1974 at 1978, and then switch to Italian motorcycles.

Was the 1984 when he approached the Cagiva, who wanted him to participate in the famous Baya 1000, in Spain: his teammate was Gian Paolo Marinoni, but with them were also Roberto Azzalin and Ostorero. If the latter faced the race with the sole goal of having fun, Gualdi and Marinoni, Instead, they were thirsty for important results.
The Baya it was a race with two rings of 500 Km and the first one that came, regardless of the category to which you belong, he would win. Every 70 Km there were service points of alternate types: one refueling, the other of mechanics.

The race was in July and the course was not marked with the road book. That year there was Gaston Rahier, that was kinda the “Master” of the twin-cylinder. Gualdi at one point found himself in front of him, overtaking him on a very technical stretch of road and more akin to an endurist like him, that to a crossman like the Belgian. Shortly thereafter, with the exuberance typical of his young age, Gualdi came along at a bend and went off the road: didn't fall, but he took a big rock and the top plate of the fork broke. But Gualdi didn't give up: took a strap, he used it to tie the plate to the steering tank and left. He and his partner came to the bottom taking a eighth place overall, behind their rivals in BMW.




His first participation in dakar is dated 1987: Auriol and De Petri were the leading drivers, while Franco and Picard were their gregarious. In one stage, Gualdi's bike was like dead: very wide track, by 2 km and all the pilots passed away from each other. He stood still, with the fear that the assistance would not see it.
He left his bike on the ground and placed his jacket at 300 meters, so you get noticed without risking your life. I start disassembling the bike but without finding the fault, until towards evening came the service truck and loaded the he and the bike. They arrived at the camp at the 2 At night, a few km from the arrival. Edwards, hidden in the truck in the middle of the bike and tires, thus crossed the finish line.

They then unloaded the bike and did an engine change operation. At 5 in the morning, took his Cagiva, came back from an external track, hanging up on the main one and crossed the finish line. By now it was late and only an hour was missing at the start of the new stage, so he quickly drank a sip of water, he rinsed himself and left immediately for the next stage. In general, that was an unfortunate edition for Gualdi: all it took was a start and his bike was stationary and in addition, la Cagiva was really challenging. He had a very high centre of gravity and the weight and speed did not forgive: in the event of falls, lifting it up was a struggle, even for the most trained physicists.

Bad game, the race could only continue worse. A few kilometers from the beginning, found colleague Ciro with the broken gearbox: stopped and gave him a hand to fix the bike. They mistakenly reassembled the two exchanged tanks and – just before they noticed and reversed them-someone passed by and took a picture. That year he went to the annals for their disqualification, that came right after this fact and just because of that shot, where you could clearly see a motorcycle with the number 99 on the front and the number 97 on the side, which was used as evidence of an exchange of motion that could never be concretely proven.

It was a kind of divine punishment: the Cagiva team was not really an example of ligio compliance with the regulations, but he was almost never punished for lack of evidence. That time, Instead, the protagonists swore they had done nothing wrong, but they were penalized on the basis of a photo that showed nothing. However, there was no possibility of appeal, since the disqualification did not arrive immediately after the race, nor the following day, that was resting, but at seven o'clock in the morning the next day yet, just before the stage began.

Azzalin could only take note of the disqualification and De Petri and Gualdi stood still, with the threat that, if they had tried to travel even a single kilometer, would have been disqualified for “undue assistance” even the two teammates still in the race. Since Auriol was in the lead, it wasn't worth the risk, so the two gregarious left for Italy and the following day, found themselves on the front page of the Equipe for a cunning that they had never accomplished, And that, Obviously, they would never admit. In 1987 Gualdi dedicated himself to proto: went up there, he guided her, developed it and made it reliable. He did a great job on carburetors., together with Franco Farnè: one even pierced him to figure out the level of gasoline.

Farnè recovered the surplus gasoline from the carburetor and put it back in the tank with a small tube. In the end they prepared about 20 Carburetors: the Weber was the top, really deadly as soon as the gas handle was wide open. He then tried the forks in Tunisia, together with Ciro, in no man's land, while in Savona and on the poorly trafficked Gravellona Toce, did the with michelin mousse tests. Gualdi was nailed, To 100 Km/h, then he came back and the technicians tested the tires. The problem, that remained unresolved even during the Dakar, was that in 170 / 175 Km/h the wheel cleats came off.

While he was trying, Gualdi had to make a’ U-turn: the bike died out and seemed to no longer want to start again. The traffic police arrived and found him there, in the middle of the street, with a bolide without even the license plate. Franco's fortune was to be a colleague of the Fiamme Oro: a quick greeting and had already become their idol. They even gave him a boost and so he managed to restart the bike. Things that were quietly done then, but today they would be unthinkable… In 1988, found himself almost without realizing it at the Dakar: started by de Petri's gregarious, he was the only one of the Cagiva drivers to finish the race. He was in his second participation, as always he did assistance and was under no illusions of doing great results.




Ciro could surely have won some Dakar, if he hadn't always wanted to cross the line: even though we know that more than 170 Km/h tires were ripped off, he never slowed down and so he ripped them. It was then up to Franco to retrieve it, in the middle of the Sahara: certain, even he would have liked to go faster, maybe in the hope of recovering 15 minutes, because that desert looked like asphalt, but instead he went to 150 Km/h safely. So much did he know that he would then find De Petri with the tires bursting: he would stop and give him his gum and, with this little game, Ciro maintained a good position in the standings, as he slipped further and further back.

He once met Ciro who had a devil for hair, went to 90 Km/h and swore at himself and his bike: the engine went to one, and passing him close, Gualdi immediately realized that had the pipette of the candle detached. He didn't have time to report the fault to him., who never saw him again, because he had started to focus: 50 km with only one cylinder and then gave him pay. Ciro was so: from some points of view really incorrigible. The Cagiva team was respected and feared: De Petri eventually retired and Azzalin called Franco and told him to show him what he was capable of. He was five hours away from the first and at least wanted to get to the end of the race with the same detachment, without going crazy to make up for lost time.

Azzalin told him to attack and he was trying to do his best, but without overdoing it: eventually came sixth. He was really pleased with the result: on balance, if there hadn't been all those stops to help others, probably could have achieved an even more important result. Franco kept a diary during the Dakar, in both editions: when in the evening he came to the camp, wrote a few lines. At the end of the race, he put it back and today admits that it was precisely those writings that led him to no longer participate in that race, wonderfully cursed.

He kept wonderful memories, but on those diaries he wrote quite a few things that no one knows yet: one day, Maybe, will pull them out and make them public. Gualdi was always very wise and never left anything to chance: if you needed three levers to change the tire, he was trying to have four rather than two; if the bike had a limit, knew it was better not to tease her; if the change was delicate, it was definitely advisable to drive carefully; avoided overcoming in the dust, not to risk taking a rock that he couldn't see.

His philosophy was: “Pull the rowing in the boat and take home the result.” Certain, this approach, sometimes it frenzied him from achieving more important successes, but he always took it to the bottom and today, all in all, he's glad so. Staying in the Team with Cagiva was an unforgettable experience: in every situation, you did what you could and also the impossible. Getting to the bivouac was already a good result for Gualdi and from that moment, began the work of the mechanics. Probably, then, risked them more than the pilots, making transfers with those unlikely planes!

Also with Azzalin, Gualdi had a nice relationship: even at the first Dakar they were expected to sleep in tents together, but it only lasted one night, because Robert snoring to such an extent that he did not turn a blind eye to the pilot and even waking himself up to assault. After that first night, Azzalin went to sleep under the truck to allow Franco to rest. Thanks to all the experiences they shared, the friendship between them was strengthened: Today, looking back, for Gualdi the Cagiva was embodied in Roberto Azzalin. He obviously also met Claudio Castiglioni, but he never entered his world and their relationship always remained formal and linked to pure labor issues.

Gualdi's salary was also partly given by his role as a test driver: over the years, was no longer at the height of his career as an endurist and, getting away with it well as a mechanic, carried on the development of motorcycles and engines that then became standard and a 750 single-cylinder that was never made. He had a good sensitivity and liked to try until he got a satisfactory final result, as he did with marzocchi forks or with an engine to 45 horses that he managed to bring to 50. The mechanics were at his complete disposal, whatever he said or asked. But he did a relatively short job: broadcast what he could but all the tests were done with Ciro De Petri: he was the leading man and the bike was made according to his needs. Gualdi had to test what Ciro wanted: they asked him to fix some things, but in the end it was De Petri who decided.

Orioli's arrival was decisive for the growth of the Cagiva: started from a Ducati engine, it was brought to maximum power and work was carried out on reliability. On the motion of the 1987 it would have suffi only a 750, instead of a 850, but with development you couldn't go back, and with that bike Ciro won so much. And if in the 1990 you got to win, was certainly also thanks to the great work done in terms of growth and development. At that time the French were the big, while the Italians were not yet ready to win a Dakar. De Petri was the best of our, however anyone was aware that the pilot to beat wasn't him, but the French, as Auriol.

When Gualdi had the chance to have him as a teammate, took advantage of it to steal some secrets from him and his driving improved noticeably. Hubert turned out to be a serious man, more attentive and precise than fast. But it was a “French”: of him, as of all his countrymen, Gualdi learned never to trust too much, because cousins across the alps are a little jealous of the dakar. They consider it a race of their own. The Italians, on the other hand, were all a little special: good and scaramantic, full of rituals, like that of De Petri who every night had hot water prepared by Forchini, his trusted man, to wash your head.

Gualdi also faced many other competitions, like the Titan rally, but the Dakar always remained a unique race: everyone else went into the background. From an edition he took home all the road books with the intention of redoing it as a tourist, calmly, making the stops not in 5 hours but in 12, looking at the wonderful places he couldn't see as a pilot. He never did.. As a pilot there was no time to think too much, reflected only in the evening, once you reach the finish line. Franco once ended up in a lost village, where everyone was naked and looked at him like an alien. The women and children took refuge in the houses and there was only one man left who understood the French: Gualdi was not the first stranger they saw; tried to get directions and then left.

He promised that he would return, but he never did. The race involved risks, Obvious, but it was also joy and fun, and the dangerous part was always less than all positive and unforgettable situations. Even today, many times Gualdi wonders why he ran and answered that it was not for adrenaline and the desire to risk. The risk was there, he was aware of it and was part of the game, but he wasn't necessarily looking for him. He was aware that every time he left he might be the last, but he didn't enjoy defying death for the sake of it.

He just left. The Dakar was certainly not the safest situation in the world: you didn't sleep, you didn't eat, he was suffering… but you knew people for what they were, without masks. And then, when you came back, you found yourself with the “Mal d'africa”. Only those who have lived experiences like those can understand it and Gualdi knows it now very well: the sense of melancholy and nostalgia for those places will accompany him throughout his life.


Dakar 2002 | The regret of Giò Sala

Concluding the “Dakar” 2002 Sixth Giovanni Sala scored its best performance since, in ' 98, He began his adventure in the most established and hard African rally. At the onset had in fact concluded 17°, in ' 99 he was rated 7° and had grasped the first stage win, in 2000 He had been forced to retire and the past year had placed only 14° but had centered four partial victories.

On return from Senegal: “i'm satisfied but i still commect too much naivety”

“I am satisfied with my result, There is no doubt” He told us the champion of Gorle upon his return from the senegalese capital “Although the eve I had set as a goal to finish in the top five. I went very close, I got two stage wins, and I gained so much experience that I can leverage in upcoming occasions that may happen. In this area I think much and although I already 38 years I think I can still give a lot. The winner of the race, My teammate and friend Mahmoodi, of years has just turned 44, Yet at present is certainly the best and most complete of all”.


He had two days of glory but also several setbacks, It's true?
“In fact, especially in the first few fractions of African race, those in Morocco. Our new Ktm twin had been prepared especially in Tunisia and had raced in Egypt, so soft and sandy terrain. On the stones and rocks of Morocco has created some difficulties, especially with the clutch, but when we have identified the cause of the problem and we fixed it up, everything went smooth away. Any anger he then procured the foreign traffic penalty by exceeding the speed when exiting a village but was suddenly anything but dangerous and I don't really remember going so strong so much that I even thought it had been traded my number 7 with the number 1 by Mahmoodi. Him at that point he confessed he had given a lot of gas. A big job in the third last leg I instead naivete, the marathon between Tichit and Kiffa. I had won the day before and then had to leave first and then lead the way. I've gotten pretty well but I took the control stamp secret and I suffered another heavy penalty. The next day I could win again but I lost a couple of minutes to help a competitor cadutomi front and are so finished second behind half a minute while the last brief sojourn on the pink Lake Dakar, that well knew, allowed me anyway to top it off”.

How do you judge this “Dakar” compared to those in which he participated in gio-sala-dakar_2002_01Earlier?
“It was a bit ' special, sharply divided into two. The first part, up to to Atar, undemanding and selective than ever so that the rest day of the Epiphany proved almost useless, at least for us beginners. The next stages instead really infernal, able to wear anyone. Absurd, then, in my opinion, the villages at night. We must consider that there are potholes and pitfalls everywhere and then over there across the street dozens of animals, all difficulties in the dark it is not easy to evaluate, particularly for us bikers who we will arrange fixtures still limited”.

Riding a Thumper would go maybe better?
“In fact I suffered a great deal on twin-cylinder weight. Even Meoni had similar problems but he drives motorcycle rally all year, I for several months step those enduro, decidedly more agile, and so I find it more difficult to adapt. In any case it is hard to say how it would go and, in any case, If I can compete again in this race, I'd like to try again with the twin. You've got discomfort at some stage but it gives great satisfaction in many other”.

In this race you only grows as pilots or even as men?
“It is true, It gives you much also from the human point of view. Explore deeper into yourself, outbursts of solidarity that inspires you in everyday life are not as spontaneous, You also hardening in the spirit, allows you to know reality so different. Also in the relationship with the other competitors you create something special which is not the case in other races”.

After five world titles in the enduro his current dream is just win once the Dakar?
“I can't deny that this competition has for me a remarkable charm. I really want to do well in rallying and because the Dakar is the Queen of the rally is clear that I would be able to conquer it. However, realist and I must admit to not being probably not ready yet, too often do I incur in blunders, in crap that someone like Meoni wouldn't. However, taking advantage of each new mistake also feel to improve and who knows that sooner or later you don't learn all the tricks and can put them into practice at its best”.

In the short term, what are its programmes?
“After this meal of about ten thousand km riding sleeping little or nothing, I really think I am going to give ten days to stop. I will dedicate to the affections and the fans, then at the end of the month there is the rally enduro blues and then testing with the 520 with whom I will participate to the Italian enduro Championship and in 600 4 times, the displacement that I longed for some time. Finally was accommodated. The first major race will be the opening of the Tricolor, at the beginning of March, While the next rally should be the one in Tunisia, in April”.

Interview by: Danilo Sechi
source: Bg/Sala/Sala.htm

1991 Arcarons

Jordi Arcarons | A life dedicated to Dakar

The former Catalan driver participated 16 times at the legendary race, debuting in the 1987 and running for the last time and in the car in the 2003 with the BMW.

“The Dakar for me is a race that has a very important human part and a competition that requires following a roadbook running and it's a constant of improvisation, knowing how to compare all the elements to be better than all. I couldn't win, but everything I've experienced I maintain a very high value in life”, The Spaniard responds to

Jordi Arcarons stroked the win many times, was the second on four occasions and understood better than anyone what the word Dakar meant.

Four times he caressed the glory, but he had to confront me with a sports giant, Stephane Peterhansel.

“You can't have a bitter taste in your mouth, because in the end the important thing in life is to continue and everything I learned gave me a lot. It would have changed my life a little bit for winning it, but nothing happens, what i couldn't get from pilot, i had it after coach and coach with Nani Roma, with Marc Coma .

With Peterhansel it was a challenge not always on par because maybe we had less means, we didn't struggle with the same budget. We were like a private team and until KTM made a motorcycle to win we had a lot of mechanical problems. It was very difficult to fight Peterhansel and the Yamaha team, were almost untouchable “, remembers Arcarons.

Dakar 1988 the year of debutThe first participation of the 1988

Arcarons recalls that it was Juan Porcar and Carlos Mas who opened their curiosity for the Dakar.
Dakar 1992, 3th overall“On TV you see the pictures, I followed several every day a minute and that encouraged me and I told myself I had to be there. As soon as I finished the Dakar in the 1987, i told myself i had to start. All year Round Enduro, the Spanish raid championship, Baja Aragón and the Enduro World Championship.
In fact, i had a very good technique to adapt it to this kind of race, in the sand dunes. What I had no idea was navigation because the national rally was without a road book, Baja himself, and taking a course with a compass didn't give me any confidence, nor did I know how to do it.”

“It was a survival adventure because the stages were very long, we arrived at night for many days. In addition, supplies were every 450 km and the bike didn't have enough petrol because the deposits were broken and we had to bring the gasoline in a jar on our back and everything was survival. Nothing to do with the race now, which is more human and more sporty. It was a total adventure. As a negative memory 7 people died in the rally, pilots and non-pilots “.

Contrary to what may seem, Arcarons remembers that in that Dakar went very fast, crossing endless and legendary deserts.

“In those running Dakar very, because crossing Algeria and Teneré was all speed, even with a lot of navigation, but the bikes were at 170-180km / h, and when there was an accident it was serious.

Dakar 1994 2Ranked 6 PS won!

I remember duff trucks going online in the desert of Keep with cars and they had double engines and they had a lot of energy. They were at the same speed as the Peugeot 205 of that time. And that truck overturned and the drivers were fired from the glass in front. It was tremendous”.

And death, that almost every year flew over the caravan:

“I remember a Dakar where Gilles Lalay died, what went to South Africa, in Cape Town, and I only saw the bicycle. It was not known what brand he had been since he was bruised. The Driver, Of course, died instantly in the event of a head-on collision with a change of rank. Here you are for everything”.

The only adventure in a car

Arcarons attempted his fortune in the 2003 with a BMW, but the adventure didn't go likeDakar 1995 2Ranked expected and hung his helmet forever.

“I went to try the race in the car, maybe because he has fewer risks and seems more comfortable to ride a motorcycle. I wanted to try it because I decided to retire from the bike after the sum of the injuries, because you're an age where you're not that competitive anymore … I got to know this specialty and had no luck with the equipment, which was very simple, did not contain spare parts. I broke the car in Tunisia in the third stage and we went home and leave some money on you says 'Mom, if I come here and they have to pay that, we're not doing well”.




Photo Gigi Soldano
Text by Biagio Maglienti from Motorcycling

Ciro said stop; enough with the Dakar and the races. "At the age of thirty-eight," says Alessandro De Petri, in art "Ciro” — it is also necessary to be able to stop.. Knowing him we know how much this decision may have cost him. So much so that he wanted to end an important parenthesis of his life in an un traumatic way, siding at the start of the 16th Dakar as a simple participant, almost a tourist. "But do not think it was still easy — continues the bergamot - to repress my instincts. I had to impose a form of self-control. In the first stages, De Petri prevailed as a driver. I didn't make it.; i opened the handcuff as usual, risking like a 10458928_10203400208157276_1120159053910473021_n - CopyCrazy. Absurd! At the end of the second special I was 35th; I left and started pulling. I've overtaken almost everyone, coming a minute from the first. I passed them in the most unexpected places, Difficult, risking the whole thing. Then I reflected; i realized that wasn't the reason why i had decided to take part in this race again. In the next stage I started and, routes ten kilometers, i stopped. I put the bike on the easel and waited a quarter of an hour. It was a real pain to see others pass by and I stood there still; but in the end I did it. Curbed competitive instinct I started my real Dakar; a Dakar from “Explorer”, to appreciate everything in these eleven years I had missed. New emotions, places and people; i photographed everything in my mind and soon, indeed very soon I will tell it in a book. Of course, not for protagonism or for profit (the proceeds will go to charity). Only to give once and for all the real face of a race too often not understood..


Alessandro De Petri said enough at thirty-eight years old, after winning for three times the Pharaohs Rally, two tunisia, collecting a total of 67 partial stage successes. For years he was the Italian symbol of this type of competition. He missed it, perhaps more out of bad luck than for other reasons, the important victory. The Dakar daydreamed on several occasions, of which he heard the scent several times and which adverse fate has always denied him. But De Petri doesn't seem to care about this “small” Particular.

"It is clear, it weighs me never to have won a Dakar, because as a professional pilot as I was, don't win this competition it's kinda’ See 11140119_10204842355488178_6697427028410064163_nfade the dream for which you have committed all your strength and part of your life. However, by objectively analysing the problem, without making any illusions, i'm equally satisfied. If I had run this race with another head I probably wouldn't have missed the success. My exuberant character prevented me from. With this I deny nothing of what I have done in recent years. I'm so in the race and in life, I couldn't have behaved differently. If I were to go back I would do everything, I would not change anything and above all I would never change my partial successes with a final victory".

The Dakar is a tough race, Unlivable, but that's why fascinating. "It is unique in the world," continues Ciro, "and only those who participated in it can really understand the motivations that drive pilots to face superhuman efforts, putting a strain and sometimes exceeding the limit of endurance for any living being". And ten years of Dakar don't forget so easily. Especially if, as in the case of De Petri, were an integral part of his life as a pilot and inevitably as a man.

I didn't make it.; i opened the handcuff as usual, risking like crazy, Absurd!

So Ciro begins: "What an incredible adventure. My past is inextricably linked to the motorcycle. I started competing very early and with good results, in the cross and enduro. Third in a world cross 125 and European enduro champion. Then I decided to abandon racing to devote myself to my main activity, that of dentist. But the future was about to reserve me something extraordinary. At twenty-eight I heard about a race with a “Crazy” that crossed the entire desert to Dakar, starting from Paris. He competed against cars and won.".

For the record, the “Crazy” it was Neveu and the race the Paris-Dakar "I had no doubt and embarked on what would later become, shortly, my true profession. I went to Farioli and asked for a motorcycle; then I bought a used Range-Rover and hired Felicino Agostini (Brother of Giacomo and brother-in-law of De Petri) and Giacomo Vismara. The adventure had begun..


You look at him and his face betrays the emphasis. The first experience and the last one are undoubtedly the ones that involve him the most on an emotional level. Memories fill it up and overlap. He remembers to Claudio Towers, an illustrious stranger, but… "The Dakar, i wouldn't fall into the rhetoric, it's a real school of life. It teaches you to fight, to get away with it yourself and help you understand people. One character in particular remained in my heart. A “Private”, the Milanese architect Claudio Torri. He showed up at the start with us in the 1983. It was for everyone the first experience, but for him it was even more so. He had already half destroyed (Physically) prologue and continued his work of annihilation in the continuation of the competition. When boarding for Africa he risked not expatriating; had laid his papers and wallet on the saddle of the bike. When the helicopter got up in the air the air shift lifted the documents and money that ended up in the water. Then, a few days later, bordering on the comedian and the grotesque, in an attempt to straighten the handlebars of my bike, helping Agostini, took the hammer in his hand and absent-mindedly hammered himself in the head. For almost the entire race Torri was the protagonist of a continuous event of this kind. Never a lament. Consecutive hours and hours in the saddle without saying a word: fantastic and amazing!».

Among the memories also the myth, sabine's. Dakar is linked to this name for better or for worse. De Petri remembers him like this: "It is not DePetri_1994_1he was never wrong, was able to make important decisions, on which depended the safety of the entire caravan of the Dakar He was always right and the pilots, the mechanics and all the entourage following the race began to blindly trust this French out of nowhere, until his figure has become a constant point of reference for all of us, a beacon to follow. And when he missed, when the news came that the helicopter had crashed to the ground, the whole caravan in silence has returned in its own footsteps going to the site of the tragic event. It was night; when we arrived there was an apocalyptic scene: sheets scattered everywhere, there was not the slightest sign of life. I can never forget..

This is the Dakar, in its strongest accents, remembered by Ciro De Petri. The terrible accident at the Pharaohs in the 1992 convinced him to abandon. "Yes probably the spring that triggered in me the decision to stop also came as a result of the accident. Two months in a coma is no joke. But, it's going to look weird, a nonsense, the accident was an opportunity to get back in the saddle again, for the last time. Coming out of the horns I slowly recovered, but I was left with a kind of numbness and tiredness; a real torment. One morning, three months ago, i decided i'd come back to run. I resumed training and immediately i passed all the ailments; i'd already won, even before starting the race".