A race so tough, requires a heavy toll

The Paris-Dakar race is not a feat of destruction», replied on 1986 Thierry Sabine who reminded him of the sad human toll paid to Dakar. A strip inaugurated by Patrice Dodin, fell off his Yamaha in the first edition: the French were going at the start of the fourth leg with the helmet fastened, When it fell and knocked on a stone the head uncovered.

Sabine himself died on 14 January 1986 along with other 4 people not far from Timbuktu (Mali) during a sandstorm: their helicopter crashed into a dune 30 meters. The next day, during the briefing for pilots, Race Director Patrick Verdoy reassured those who feared that the race would stop: "The continuation of the rally will be like Thierry would've wanted, Sports safety and rigour will be insured».

But it was not enough to prevent other tragedies, starting from Giampaolo Marinoni, fell in the final stage of that Edition: the tester of Cagiva came up in the saddle for the last 40 km and hewed the finish before crumble to the ground. Died 2 days later of liver lesions. Similar fate, 19 years later, would be touched to Fabrizio Meoni, winner of the editions 2001 and 2002.

With the abandonment of Africa the streak of blood (23 pilots dead outnumber other deaths among inhabitants, spectators, journalists and mechanics) seemed destined to break. Instead, in South America the tragedies there have been. Already 5 the pilots dead in motion, starting from Pascal Terry: in 2009 He had pulmonary edema in the pampas and found body after three days.

This is the list of riders disappeared in various editions of Dakar Africa to which must be added the deceased between the crews and support staff, organizers, inhabitants, spectators, journalists and victims of traffic accidents caused by competitors.

  • 1979
  • 1982
  • 1983
  • 1986
  • 1986
  • 1988
  • 1992
  • 1994
  • 1996
  • 2005
  • 2005
  • 2006
  • 2007
  • 2007
  • Patrice Dodin (FRA)
  • Bert Oosterhuis (OLA)
  • Jean Noel Pineau ( FRA)
  • Giampaolo Marinoni (ITA)
  • Jean-Claude Huger (FRA)
  • Kees van Zijr Loeve (OLA)
  • Gilles Lalay (FRA)
  • Michel Sansen (BEL)
  • Jean-Pierre Leduc (FRA)
  • José Manuel Pérez (SPA)
  • Fabrizio Meoni (ITA)
  • Andy Caldecott (AUS)
  • Elmer Symons (S.AFR)
  • Eric Aubijoux (FRA)
  • Nigeria
  • Algeria
  • High Voilta
  • Senegal
  • MALI
  • Nigeria
  • Congo
  • Mauritania
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritania
  • Morocco
  • Senegal


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Prologo maldetto! Aldo Winkler Dakar 1988

Departure to Paris so proud to be in the team Honda Italy B had found even the sponsors but this photo reminds me of a dramatic prelude, the bike rattava the prologue and this photo shows that I wanted to work on it but here at little squalificarmi's a janitor comes to scold me threatening my life if I hadn't gone. The next day I will regularly, and I'll do 800 km in the cold and ice with broken with the bike that was a little’ accelerated. In 5 km from the Eiffel Tower sthe rear brake drum shoes scollarono, and I had to remove the wheel to make it free. After 300 km will break the chain, the giuntai and after another 30 km the chain was still cracked.

I softened the bike to some viewers and a polite gentleman with the machine he took at breakneck speed I'm taking Highway at the head of the rally because the trucks were leaving for first, I give a chain and I went back to repair the bike. Resumed the race all sweaty and LY, but it was in extreme lateness practically last and from time! Trying to catch up with the bike in these conditions I went as hard as possible, in the heat I jumped a stamp control (Pena 2 penalty hours) and I got to take Cale Marseille, and while was fixing to fix it definitively I took an ankle boots in an attempt to start it without recoil. I got on the ferry aching with 2 penalty hours and destroyed by fatigue and tension. Honda trucks Italy retreated and Honda France gave support to Italian riders but I was excluded, the airborne mechanic fell ill and returned to Italy. I found myself without assistance and without mechanical. You will think: how much bad luck! You and true but the most important thing and that I got 19° Dakar and without the two-hour penalty would do 12°!
How many memories in this simple picture…

Text by Aldo Winkler


Yamaha Belgarda working to the Dakar 1989

Insiders say the race, on the beach in Dakar, It doesn't end, but begins. In the sense that the losers, But even the winner, just crossing the finish line Let's start already thinking about the next edition. Behind the three-week race, In fact, There is the work of a whole year. But how does this work? As you work in “bunker” Racing divisions when the desert is back on silence and the wind has obliterated the footprints of tires from sand? To answer we checked into one of these departments ran (usually strictly “top secret”), one of the newly formed BYRD, (Belgarda Yamaha Racing Division), “daughter” Italian importer of Yamaha, that takes care of all the racing activities of the company.

The team has the credentials to be among the protagonists of the marathon and she collected many successes in the past in Africa with strong Franco Picco, second in Dakar last year and winner of the Rally of the Pharaohs in 86, and with Cyril Neveu, winner of five Paris-Dakar. Daniele Papi, Managing Director of-BYRD and head of African expedition, tells “Motorcycling” as the team prepared to “Dakar”. The rule of “Paris-Dakar rally which starts on the beach in Dakar when ends the previous edition” PAPI confirmation: the leaders of two official Yamaha team, the Italian Belgarda and France's Sonauto, gather together with observers sent by the Japanese parent a few hours after the end of the marathon in a private room at a hotel in Dakar.

1989_ YZE750_Tenere_0W94

The discussion, sports only cutting, need to analyze the progress of the race and has followed the week after, at the headquarters of Yamaha-Europe, in Amsterdam, where you decide the address of competitive activities of the three teams — French, Italian and Japanese — while in Europe you disassemble and inspect all parts used on motorcycles who finished the race, in Japan we lay the foundations of the project for the construction of the new machine. After a few months, completed the analysis of the materials used and the strategies of the next edition (number of motorcycles in the race and its assistance), starts the phase “hot” the preparation: mechanics and drivers flying in Japan for the first tests of the new medium. This last phase lasts between 30 and 60 days and is undoubtedly the most interesting: It is here that the prototype takes form and is changed according to the recommendations of the pilots, recommendations taken into great account of Japanese technicians.

The new Yamaha OW94, Thumper of 750 CC., in first exit at the rally of the Pharaohs finished second with Franco Picco. Digitalis is placed in the tail of the bike, away from the engine that could create abnormal magnetic fields, the reader is at the side of the road book.

OW94-02Our peak, in particular, enjoys fame as expert test pilot and the Japanese are doing everything to please him making changes that suggests. So we arrive in September, When you debug the participation to the Pharaohs, dress rehearsal of “Dakar”. The bikes come from Japan and intensify testing of parts produced in Europe, for example the rear shock (Ohlins): in the race, then, you will experience the new solutions.

Upon returning from “Pharaohs” life gets hectic: expect from Japan the new bikes, amended in accordance with the experience of the race in Egypt, bikes arriving anco-ra to assemble and check. The last test was completed a few days before departure for Paris. Janice Bailey, Head of external relations of the BYRD, It acts as a guide during your visit to the bunker. We begin with the presentation of full-time employees • mechanical Racing Division: named Fumagalli, Lanzulli and sinks, While completing the Paris-Dakar Bonetti (that follows Fain in cross) and the specialist bodies Vafaie. The new regulation, prohibiting participation in the truck and that limits the number of support vehicles, He forced all the major team to review the Organization of assistance in race.OW94-07

The 70 percent of spare parts is carried on cars and trucks, the rest being parked at Agadez, in a permanent base Yamaha. The tires needed a race like that between moto, cars and trucks are almost two hundred (an idea of the total cost may give it the price of a special rubber for trucks, 2.500.000 Italian lira). Motorcycle tires are replaced each end stage: the Special “mousse” (Michelin) that substitute for normal air chambers prevents punctures, but it has a limited tata resistance to high temperatures that occur in stressed tires. The three Range Rover (participating in the race) take care the parts most commonly used screen on the slopes, a motor mounted, a tank, a complete wheel and obviously a mechanic can assist the driver in case of failure.

By the time the team also includes a woman, the only between 23 men: It's called Matilda T, 30 years, Image Manager Chesterfield. All 24 people on your team are involved full time, in the year, the field Raid Marathon, but quantifying the human force needed for the conduct of the entire project is impossible. All employees of Belgarda are co-involved and collaborate with the racing Department even if only intermittently. The pilots, as well as conducting the tests, follow the set up of the bike to be able, during the race, repairs of luck. The pre-race physical preparation, always followed by the head doctor, the profes-sor Bows, includes, during the month before the race, 3 weekly bike trips, 4 jogging sessions, 3 gym (2 read and one with maximum loads), a day at the pool and a complete rest.

Archetti believes that athletes use doping, in African marathons, Since it is impossible to, in an effort so prolonged, dispose of the remaining negatives of such substances, and a pilot who would use would remain a victim of the accumulation of fatigue. Talk about costs is virtually impossible. In addition to bike, estimated value 300 millions of lire una, the means of assistance, aeroplanes, dozens of people leave, the thousands of hours of work dedicated to the project, We must consider the occasional engagement of all employees and other dozens of people Belgarda (photographers, suppliers, etc.) who collaborate to the realization of “African dream”.


Peak and Neveu will be in charge of two new Yamaha OW 94. Driven by peak at Rallye des Pharaons, the OW 94 is the evolution of the OW 93 entrusted to Mad and the fourth rider. Identical in design, the new Yamaha differ in reinforced frame and a modified suspension in linkages and length of the swingarm; the engine is different in the heating unit (piston and piston rings of new material) and has larger carburetors and has a higher compression ratio.

OW94-05The candle is now only, in place of the previous two, the power is 60 HP, two more, but mostly the consumption decreased. OW94-04In detail the technical characteristics are as follows: displacement of 752 CC (105 x 87 mm), four-stroke single cylinder engine with five valves, two Mikuni Carburetors from 30 and 32 mm, five-speed gearbox, Kayaba fork with adjustable compression and rebound, excursion to 300 mm, monocross rear suspension with adjustable Ohlins super, excursion 280 mm, Michelin front 90/90×21 or 100/80×19, rear 140/90×18.

Autonomy is entrusted to two tanks, side main, a total of 58 liters; the weight of nearly 220 kg in running order and the maximum speed is over 185 km/h. The instrumentation, In addition to indispensable roadbook, includes a trip master tech, digital and analogue magnetic electronic compass of reserve. After his second place in last edition, second place at “Pharaohs”, the official Yamaha, entrusted to the French team Sonauto, is a top candidate to victory .

Source Motorcycle Racing
Special Tks Stefano Magician


Luciano Carcheri, I'll tell you my last Dakar 2002

When the race becomes almost insane, mainly due to bad weather, the whole thing verges on madness. That in this edition GI_112the Paris-Dakar I knew there was something strange in the first European side having spent the first four days of competition in the rain. In Madridho had to remove the Fender bass on stage because the mud I was blocking the front wheel, so once landed in Morocco, I started the real Dakar from bottom of the League. Addressed the first part of the race very carefully because of the treacherous slopes and numerous stones, I started after the rest day in Atar from 50° place overall.

I ran eight I finished six. After 100.000 kilometres in Africa I feel satisfied. I would say that is enough.

As race tactics and how my habit, the ride “Vera” for me it would be game to Atar, but instead of there began my physical problems. Trying the bike, in the evening, a chill provoked me intestinal problems, I have walked so Atar's stage of 404 km in disastrous conditions. At the finish line are literally collapsed and there were loaded on to a means of & #8217; organization that brought me into the medical tent. Cures & numerous IV (about a dozen due to dehydration) I put it together, but in the morning at dawn I had to prove to doctors who had treated sufficient qualities of driving safety in order to continue the race. After removing the IV, I “exhibited” in agility skills (style Cada Fracci) and only after they are convinced I was allowed to leave for the next stop Atar-Tidjikja of 502 km. At that point I rushed to eat, to fix this in the chest that is transported by air to the next bivouac, and to retrieve the bike Meanwhile my mechanic Ramon, had placed.

GI_097I kept so my eighth Dakar recovering day after day and in Tichit-Tichit stage, stage without Gps points and where many have not found the CP3 (I to find it I did 50 km in over night in & #8217; grass “camel”) and proceeded to Tichit to 19.30. That night I slept about five hours and are broken down by the second Marathon stage Tichit-Kiffa-Dakar (a total of 1.472 km) that for me was the hardest one especially because it rained constantly and c & #8217; it was very muddy. In order to take this part, I had to disassemble in special stage the Fender bass with mud blocking the wheel and as a result I was falling, so I had to go well 600 km of off-road almost everyone in the mud, at night with no lights, because the mud splashed from the front wheel is deposited on the lighthouse, on glasses, on the helmet and quant & #8217; else reducing myself a mud mask.

GI_034In order to continue the transfer of night, I thought of exploiting the headlights of trucks, but this system worked fine until it came to one of the many intersections and Bifurcations: at that point I had to many times to stop and wait for the next truck since the fork had chosen different paths. Upon arrival to gasoline around 3.00 At night, I was exhausted, I closed my eyes to tiredness. At that point I decided (also because it had finally stopped raining) to rest a & #8217; now, so I lay down on the ground in the shelter of drums of gasoline. Finished this nightmare, I stopped at the border with Senegal a wash that in addition to wash the bike was propitiatory for the pilot. The next day the stage Dakar-Dakar, footbridge over the Lake Rose, was a veritable formality.GI_001

I have to say that I finished this eighth Dakar low ears; before leaving I assumed that arrive at the pink Lake, aside from mechanical problems, It would have been much easier. I have to say in this regard that my KTM worked great as usual. This twenty-fourth edition was one of the toughest disputed by me; I'm definitely satisfied with being high on arrival six times out of eight investments. I thank all those who have helped me over the years and especially Emilio Giletti, great man and great sportsman, who by his immense passion and willingness allowed me to be present at the world's hardest Marathon Rally against riders and teams more organized and prepared for this big event.

The Paris-Dakar for me retires. With this eighth edition I have walked more than 100.000 kilometres in Africa between rallies and excursions, and I feel really satisfied for everything I've done. Farewell to Dakar, doesn't mean I'll just sit on our hands or TVs with ve-der run others. A new extreme challenge is plaguing me… now I think a little’ to rest and soon after we talk about.

Luciano Carcheri
Source Motosprint



Alain the great e its Dakar 1979

November 1978, Orly motocross field, near Paris a motorcycle is turning and is feeling with its V-twin engine and its impressive dimensions. It is a prototype, the TT500. Denis Bacholle, Director of Seudem, Moto Guzzi importer in France, he lent it to me for a few days to refine it. The bike has powerful, very stable, very robust and relatively easy to drive, even in muddy paths. Known for a problem, is the driveline which limits the travel of the rear suspension and forces you to keep the rear wheels aluminum alloy series – spoked hub conversion would be too expensive.

I started the enduro with a Pioneer Bones. In 1977 I have successfully participated in the Rallye 5-5 Abidjan-Nice by Jean-Claude Bertrand, on a Yamaha DT400 prepared by Gilles Comte. We join Cyril Neveu, Christian Rayer and… Thierry Sabine, you will lose in the Ténéré. Gilles wins the race.

Dakar 1979

The Moto Guzzi TT500 to Dakar 1979

He was announced as a Paris-Dakar, organized by the same Thierry Sabine, Creator:’ Enduro du Touquet. Denis Bacholle is a passionate man and the team is a true miracle, but on the day of departure five bikes are regularly lined up at the start and their pilots were ready – Martine Rénier, Eric Breton, Piatek, Bernard Rigoni..
Assistance is provided by two Toyota vehicles that have now reached retirement age.

The race begins and we in Algeria, stages of connection: the Guzzi are fighter aircraft! Officials from Honda and Yamaha, on their single begin to look with respect. Our bikes are the best in top speed and very stable. The consumption is under control, as expected. After Reggane, the return to reality is brutal. Rear alloy wheels don't hold up, they break. The 105 mm rear suspension travel on potholes and bumps do not forgive. Martine Rénier and Piatek they crash and injured leave the competition.

I also do I perform in a nice looping, and remedy a left wrist fracture. I decide to keep this incident to myself and continued the rally with one hand or nearly. I adjust the handlebars to avoid tiring too the pulse and I install a tire back onto the rim trail that will be less stressful for the circle. We reach Agadès and while sliding alongside Martine de Cortanze, I feel that the bike collapses in the sand. Despite reinforcements the frame broke at the height of the steering column. The same mishap later happen to Eric Breton. It's time to go home.

Le Grand 1980

Le Grand helped by Breton fumble on the rear wheel of the TT500

My mate Bernard Rigoni, the smiling motorcyclist from inseparable moral qualities and physical properties, will arrive in Dakar.
Jean-Patrick Capdevielle sings: "it's hard to be a hero / on this side of the planet ... ".

He's right, Jean-Patrick, certainly we are not heroes, but the pioneers, anonymous and fans, what you definitely .... Toss in the Algerian desert, withstand sandstorms without GPS, at that time it was not so easy. The Moto Guzzi TT500 demonstrated the competitiveness of twins in rally-raid, without the inconvenience of the rear rim could do great things. This bike was outstanding in everyway. It was a great privilege to lead this Moto Guzzi.

And’ has also been a great privilege to have been members of this team, United States and enthusiastic. A thought for Denis Bacholle, gone too soon. Greetings from Bogota, Colombia, friends of the history of Paris Dakar.

Alain le Grand, Dakar 1979, bib. 85.


Dakar 1986, in the desert every promise is a debt

In the desert, every promise is a debt and Gilles Picard is the unfortunate victim and regulated. Here's how they went about facts: the front fork by Gianpaolo Marinoni broke out and with her all the oil. Then his Cagiva collapses on the suspension when it touches the ground after the jumps and goes to "package" so much that the oil filter located under the carter arrives at Earth and breaks in turn. Mad he must stop, and then even Picard, who respects his role as gregarious.

Beppe Gaulini racing with a private Elefant

Beppe Gaulini racing with a private Elefant

But Gilles has oil and Gianpaolo should expect the Landrover quick assistance team Lucky Explorer then set off with the knife between his teeth. A little’ later breaks a wheel and his friend Beppe Gauri, riding a private Cagiva, stops to give him his, remaining in Cagiva support response that will supply you with spare parts, allowing Gilles to leave and continue his race with ambitions of ranking. Is an expensive gift because the medium of quick service passes without seeing Gauri who is stopped on the track. Beppe is able to spread much later but will be sanctioned with a ten hour penalty for arriving after the closing of the control time of arrival.

Happy goes to complain from the official Cagiva team manager who promises him that if necessary will be identical to that of support riders. And indeed the fate promptly puts it to the test, the 6 January Gauri breaks a wheel and stops Picard who finished well in the standings, twenty-third. The Covenant must be respected and the follower must give his wheel to Gauri, located at the bottom of the League. The face of the poor Gilles, losing an hour in maneuver, perfectly expresses the torments of the water carrier.

Taken from: The last tree of Paris Dakar by Jean Him Roy – Vertical Sea Edition

Pierre Marie Poli Dakar 1986

Dakar 1986, the race is tough even before you start!

After the euphoria at the start of Paris, the respite is short-lived, and waking up even heavier, on the national road number 20. The bikers act as pilot whales and huddle in the wakes of cars and trucks, glued to the tail lights. So says Pierre-Marie Poli, the leader of the bike after the prologue of Cergy: "The outside of the visor is frozen and the Interior tarnished. Then I open the visor, and, because I'm short sighted, ice is formed immediately outside the de lenses-glasses that fog up inside… Then lower the visor, also because I'm cold, and I've got four layers opaque before my eyes. The only solution is to stick behind a truck assistance, so do I 150 kilometers; When I only see a stop sign means I'm too close, When I see them both means I'm too far. Certain that if he entered a parking lot would have followed without hesitation. The only drawback is that uphill limps a bit. '

The result is that Parker has arrived with only five minutes to spare on eighteen times permitted to run the 1.100 kilometers of the stage. As usual Thierry follows the Caravan for personal pleasure, to soak up the atmosphere always warmer and to gather strong impressions. For cars and trucks, the situation is much more comfortable, If the heating system is not dismounted, as it happens normally in the case of prototypes. The copilots rival outwit to combat fogging invading windshield, breathe in turn is hardly a solution to adopt.

Fennel He brought with him a hairdryer that attached to the cigarette lighter works wonders, but the first prize for the year's Eve tale goes to Jean-Christophe Pelletier (Ed. You may recall his participation at 1981 aboard a Rolls Royce), with one of those stories that much like Thierry: with six Dakar on the assets side and four arrivals on the beach, two cars and two motorcycles, Jean-Christophe is one of the most experienced of the Group. First difficulties already closed Park of Versailles, the day of the prologue, with his Yamaha that refuses to boot.

On top of that came the snow, Although not required by Thierry. Somehow manages to reach Cergy and back with difficulty, plagued by a set of problems of ignition and carburetion. On January 1, the engine stalls under the walkway of the via. Delayed and 7 kilometers south of Limoges, the motor stops permanently. It's seven o'clock in the evening, It is night, It's cold, it rains. His means of support is ahead, because the trucks are left for the first, at seven in the morning. Suddenly two youngsters of sixteen emerge from the Woods and tell him: «But she is one of the Paris – Dakar! Push up to our farm, We have tools.»

As fortune never comes alone, a car stops across the street and down a gentleman with a Toolbox: "I am a mechanic of Motobécane in Limoges, the shelter the bike. ' He had a white beard and red jacket… Push the bike to a kilometer in the fields and take her in the stable. On the left there are some sheep, one of which is even giving birth, right of carts, and in the midst of this yellow and black beast, under the bright eyes of two young boys with red cheeks, who spent the day at the roadside to watch remove all those monsters covered in stickers. The mechanic gets down to business, disassemble the carburetor and after an hour and a half is a flake of paint of the tank into the Bowl.

It's eight thirty at night and Jean-Christophe still has eight hours to get to Sète, under 700 kilometers of rain. Replacement lightning and tense atmosphere in the barn, under a dim light. Despite dozens of rounds of crank there is nothing to do, the bike will not turn on. There is an electric wire of mass that generates a short circuit but the mechanic, representative of Motul in the region and former air hostess, can't find it. At ten is the surrender, There is no longer any chance of arriving on time. New year's fairy tale might end like this, Sadly, What about the two guys invite Jean-Christophe to get into the House. His clothes are drying around the stove and on the table covered with oilcloth show of the dishes a more inviting than the other: smoked salmon, Turkey and other delights. Are the leftovers of the vigil and the motorcyclist disappointed and exhausted you can binge without restraint, telling stories of Paris – Dakar kids who listen to him spellbound.

Taken from The last tree of Paris Dakar by Jean Him Roy published by Edizioni Sea Vertical

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Dream, o son desto? Patrick Faure Dakar 1990

I don't know why, but this morning I woke up with this picture in my head: Niamey ' 90, at camp we meet the Dakar bivouac. Gigi Algiers, Fabio Marcaccini, Max Malik, I, a young tourist travelling around Africa with father, and the great lone Luigi Sala (about BMW) serving spaghetti with Italian Dakariani.

Picture taken by my great friend Gianni Lolli (hole of the bells… who can remember?). That mythical journey! Two months of reading total improvising an itinerary day by day between Tunisia, Algeria, Niger and Mali and back. We left in 2, me in motion, On an old Land SWB overloaded with food (that Cook). A couple cannot everyone said, Instead he was one of the most beautiful travel. A leisurely pace, with long stretches alone and he comes along, my track.
Zero gps, map that bought at newsstands, broke the impossible in the Land, but always repaired.

Gathered down the street from the ferry, many tourists loners and small groups of desperate. All fed by the great chef. No a problem in customs, no mention of politics or local with fundamentalism, only nice people, serene and welcoming everywhere… What has changed? That nostalgia… He wants to redo the same path. They tell me: “at least you did these things”… MAh, I don't know if it was a good thing or a bad thing, now who's the lever from the head? I'm going to go back to hidden.


The 125 in the history of the Dakar

Text: Romulus Ciancamerla

Using the term "adventure" in defining participation in Dakar with a 125cc class, It is hardly a stretch: If you already participate in and finish this race with a motorcycle of engine capacity and adequate power is reserved for the chosen few, try doing that with a bike of this displacement is truly something that borders on heroism!

The first problem is that of mechanical reliability: with a bike of this displacement one should always be at the maximum engine capacity, Sandy is hard on those tracks, because otherwise the stages you end up the next day! When you are able to preserve the mechanics and have a proper assistance – with a quantity of spare parts allowing a frequent replacement of pieces that would fail to do the entire race (piston loads, cylinders in quantity. and even some complete engine!) – in each case a rider on a 125, as far as expert and bravo may be, always comes evening, If not overnight, so it must have a physical resistance even more than is necessary to pilots of higher capacity.

And don't think that the lighter weight of a 125 It can be a weapon in favor: due to the fact that it must always be full throttle, the consumption of 125 they are also much higher than those of motorcycles with a cylinder capacity exceeding, then the Challenger with 125 must bring more gasoline and, Eventually, the weight of your bike will be only slightly lower, In addition, at least in Dakar than once, should also provide for more supplies. The 4T only in the very early editions were used (too low the power to stay inside in increasingly pull that Dakar after Dakar organisers were invented), so were complicated by the need of having to make mixture: While it is true that use an automatic mixing system is too risky (you could keep it protected from sand!) It is also true that making mixture in the middle of the desert is not the easiest operazine of this world!

To give you an overview of all these "Heroes" who tried to arrive in Dakar (When you arrive there!) or at the bottom, share the story of the Dakar into 5 great periods, they have also formed the evolutionary stages of this great event.



On New Year's Eve 1979 a heterogeneous group of 200 adventurers, the most unlikely vehicles (in 2,4 or more wheels, then the ranking was not yet separated), He departed from the Trocadero in Paris to reach the capital of Senegal, Dakar, that still was a simple point on a map and whose name was not cloaked in legend.

DAKAR 1979 Gregoire Verhaeghe arrives at the bottom of the first edition with his bike everyday, a Honda 125 XLS

DAKAR 1979 Gregoire Verhaeghe arrives at the bottom of the first edition with his bike everyday, a Honda 125 XLS

To lead this caravan there was that Feri Sabine, He had contracted the ill of African adventure by participating, with one of the few motorcycle (disapearing for 3 days in the desert!), two years earlier at the Rally Cote d'Ivoire, organized by Jean Claude Bertrand, that was the reverse path from Abidjan in Nice and it was in effect the precursor of Paris-Dakar.

The first Dakar bikes were about half of the members and there were also four 125, two Suzuki TS 2s and two Honda XLS to 4T; only one of the two Hondine came down, led by Gregoire Verhaeghe, that, with its 19 years, He was also the youngest of the participants.

Looking at his picture, that seems to come from another age, It is clear that many bikes participants had nothing different from everyday motorcycle, with just a few gear loaded on the rack; in fact, Gregoire used his Car which had already shoulders 70,000 Km.

Although the paths of those first editions followed the trails and road book were only to very few pages pointing to little more than place names of early and late stage (even lesser-known names of the Dakar itself, but that will become icons of Africa. How can we forget In Salah,Tamanrasset,Agadez,GAO, Bamako?!), get down with that bike is considered a titanic enterprise and do it coming 65° on 74 arrived (33° in motion, the best result ever achieved by a participant in 125!!) to understand even more than the young Verhaeghe had all the numbers to make it and proved by participating in other 4 Dakar and ending even 3rd overall in ' 82 with a Barigo 600.



The success of the first edition had an echo so great that Feri Sabine, year after year, made his run one of the most followed by the world's media. Always faithful to his motto "c'est la Dakar" to justify the criticism that came from all over to the growing danger of a race in which the average rate continued to rise and the routes used to divert more and more often from marked pistes, making the increasingly important navigation.

DAKAR 1984 Patrick Vallet finishes the race on his Yamaha DT125 notice the Roadbook holder with leaves in the wind!

DAKAR 1984 Patrick Vallet finishes the race on his Yamaha DT125 notice the Roadbook holder with leaves in the wind!

Although the risk of getting lost in the Sahara increased dramatically, a numerro and more characters (sportsmen and not) wanted to attempt that adventure and brands the Dakar became an event that was getting harder to say no.

The vehicles became increasingly specialized and the bike began to take that aspect from "ship of the desert" is derived from the use of increasingly large tanks that will create that category of vehicles also for series production.

Despite this, someone who tried the adventure on a 125 There was always…and these are the numbers:

1 competitor in the ' 80, 3 in ' 83, 2 in ' 84, ' 85 and ' 86.

During this period, only a pilot succeeded to reach Dakar on a 125: in ' 84 Patrick Vallet ended 40th overall in the motorcycle category, on 54 arrived the 116 Parties, a result of absolute respect, considering they were already years of victories of Gaston Rahier on beast BMW (ancestor of many current GS) and that the Japanese and, timidly, even Italian houses

Monsieur 125 ", Gerard Barbezant in his first participation in the 1985, on Honda XL 125

Monsieur 125 ", Gerard Barbezant in his first participation in the 1985, on Honda XL 125

they were committing more and more directly in the preparation of motorcycle, they were still derived from production bike with appropriate adjustments.

THE GOLDEN YEARS: from 1987 at 1992

Even after the death of its founder Feri Sabine, during the Edition 1986 due to an accident the helicopter from where the "leader" now ran the race and, Although many fans tend to coincide this year with the end of the "Dakar Eroica", the structure that the Sabine himself had created, the TSO, He managed to help you manage growth and Dakar became the most-watched ever motorcycle race.

Now both automakers (Citroen/Peugeot pioneered) is the biggest motorcycle manufacturers were developing prototypes that were created just to try to win that race (that, in the case of motorcycle, production vehicles that resembled then generated, reversing the process followed in the initial years) and the race had become in effect a GP in the desert that you won based more on performance means that the ability of pilots to "find" the right track, Because navigation systems had become very close to those used satellite today and they do stray from the road only if they break.

Despite this soaring performance, a few more "hero" which decided to start 125 We find it: in ' 87 two more departures (but none on arrival!) before reaching the explosion of attendance in 1988, with ben 13 bike 125 on departure.

The 1988 was the year attended by the two Gilera R1, along with the two original team Peugeot "125 Challenge"; In addition to these bikes, already described in the previous issue, they left a Kawasaki, 2 Yamaha, 2 Aprilia , 3 Cagiva and KTM.

The KTM , the famous "double engine", was a motorcycle among the most "absurd", never seen the Dakar: its Builder, Michel Assis, conscious of the mechanical limits of a motor 125, He had not found a better solution that place a second spare engine attached above to the one in use, ready to be replaced in case of damage on the runway!

DAKAR 1988: So that's where the engine Commons! Despite this, Assis did not pass the first stages!

DAKAR 1988: So that's where the engine Commons! Despite this, Assis did not pass the first stages!

DAKAR 1988 Michel Assis with its monumental KTM 125 "Twin"

DAKAR 1988 Michel Assis with its monumental KTM 125 "Twin"

A special mention should be made to one of two Yamaha, that led by Italian Mercandelli: the veteran of many Dakar was inscribed with an XT 600, but less than 15 days prior to departure was contacted by Belgarda (the Italian team who ran the official Yamaha for peak and Co.) and he was offered a Tenerè 125 "Official". Since the Yamaha team had (and has!) its headquarters less than two kilometers from the historical site of Gilera and because "the country is small and people are talking", nothing more likely the swirling design plan of two Gilera over the walls of the plant in Arcore and that in turn had decided to set up a Belgarda 125 in a hurry; the level of preparedness of the bike and the proposal at the last minute to Mercandelli suggest that the truth is not so distant from my supposition.

In any case, Despite a stake so numerically important, again no 125 He beat half the

DAKAR 1988 The Yamaha Ténéré 125 by Mercandelli, travel prepared by Belgarda

DAKAR 1988 The Yamaha Ténéré 125 by Mercandelli, travel prepared by Belgarda

race: the majority of the competitors did not pass the deadly first two stages and only the

DAKAR 1989 The brethren Auribault among the last to participate in the Dakar of the golden years, and both the finish

DAKAR 1989 The brethren Auribault among the last to participate in the Dakar of the golden years, and both the finish

Cagiva (entered by a French team very well organised) they came close to Agadez… but they could not proceed due to lack of spare parts stop in the desert in their service truck.

The 1989 was the last year of the Dakar rally from the golden years which saw the 125 at the start and two of the three runners, the brothers Auribault (true veterans of this race) they managed to arrive in Dakar, in 52° and 53° position of 60 arrived, remarkable performance considering the level reached by race.

To find other 125 at the start we had to wait another 10 years.



In 1993 you reached the minimum number of starters: the turbulent political situation in North Africa had convinced many of the large houses (especially in the area of motorcycles) to reduce the commitment officer and, Consequently, the media coverage was quickly diminished. In this same year the management of the race passes by the TSO to ASO, as if to seal a passing of the baton between the "classic" and the "new" Dakar. In subsequent years, ASO changed many times the path, either by changing the city of beginning and ending, This always in an attempt to find routes that avoid the dangerous "hot" areas that year became more extended, until the edition of 2008 that was cancelled two days prior to departure. The difficulties of the race, though, not diminished and for many years no one found the motivation to try again with the eighth-litre class, until in 1999 He turned up again in France was nicknamed "Monsieur 125", This Gerard Barbezant, He competed in a total of 14 Dakar, all made in 125!

His first participation dates 1985, with a Honda XR 125, that he also used in 1986; in 1987 He joined 2T on a Honda NX125 and then used a Yamaha for the edition of 1988. After a power outage 11 years, returned in 1999, This time riding a KTM EXC 125 He used almost continuously until its last Dakar, that of 2007, race to the ripe old age of 61 years! No longer races the Dakar 2006 because of the pain that brought him the death of the great Fabrizio Meoni, his good friend. Example of passion and perseverance he managed in order to finish the Dakar only in 2003, in an edition which ended in Sharm-el-Sheikh and that was one of the less harsh than ever, to the extent that its winner Sainct, Commenting on the ease said that "had been able to finish even on Barbezant"!

Dakar 2005: twenty years have passed, but "Monsieur 125" is still riding his KTM EXC 125 for its 13° participation in Dakar

Dakar 2005: twenty years have passed, but "Monsieur 125" is still riding his KTM EXC 125 for its 13° participation in Dakar

It seems that the dedication of this true sportsman class 125 It wasn't motivated by some form of perverted masochism, but simply because he had never done licences for motorcycles with a cylinder capacity exceeding… And the 125 It was the only bike that could drive!

Although in some Edition was accused of some "trick", namely to cut heavily the path, inning in the vaulting lump of controls… but by staying in the race by taking advantage of the regulation that permits (at the bottom was not a sprovveduto, being holder of 3 engineering degrees!), one cannot but admire the tenacity; However will remain in the annals among the very few to have completed the Dakar 125!


The increasingly unstable political situation in the Sahel, that prevents find appropriate locations to build safely race lived up to its reputation, pushes the organizers to cross the Atlantic Ocean and the Dakar remains only the name of something that, In addition to traverse slopes of South America, also lose that aura of "adventure" that had pervaded the history. The race, still grueling, becomes a sort of Enduro "Long Range" with paths that climb the Andes and along the deserts that have more difficulties and the charm of challenge, typical of the Ténéré. The bikes become lighter and easier to handle, but think about using a 125 still has something heroic.

In the latest edition of this year, the Frenchman Sylvain Espinasse, raced and completed the Dakar on a Husqvarna, becoming the sixth rider in history to succeed in the enterprise.

Dakar 2016 Sylain Espinasse is the first to run and accomplish the Dakar "the new world"

Dakar 2016 Sylain Espinasse is the first to run and accomplish the Dakar "the new world"

On his bike, equipped with an intelligent mix oil tank carried inside the swingarm, had to replace 5 Pistons to reach upon arrival and had to overcome a difficulty unknown to competitors of old Dakar: overcoming the distance to more than 4.000 meters forced him, sometimes, to fail to reach speeds over 40 Km/h, caused by carburetion heavily greased.

But at the end of his business, Sylvain said that the greatest difficulties he encountered in the overcoming of the dunes; This makes me think that if he tried the old Paris-Dakar might not have entered the history!


Article taken from Enduro nr. 43

Screenshot 2017-03-31 at 12.18.59

Nani Roma and “fear of winning”

Dakar 2002 – From the fourth to the seventh stage Nani Roma is leading the General, at Zouerate in the eighth, Meoni takes the lead. Nani starts his pursuit: the twelfth the two are in close proximity and with minimum detachment reaching Tichit in Mauritania. It takes only two decisive stages for the final victory of the Dakar 2002. And this is where amazing happens.

Quattrordicesima stage Tichit-Kiffa 473 kilometers. Nani turns around and keeps on going, He turns again and continues on his way, don't know if you missed it or if it is the right way. Because there is no one? Where are the others? Yet the track is here, the GPS says so, even the roadbook. Or maybe not?

"I was supposed to do a half turn and go look for the track good, It was clear that it could be the one. I felt that I was wrong but I didn't have the clarity to come back ".

A few meters after Nani is over the crest of a mountain, tries to climb, trying to find an opening, Search a valley in which slip, find a hole to exit the tunnel. Nani is in cage, bangs his head against the bars and looking for an exit as a tiger at the zoo. Where is stuck cannot be a ground to Dakar, is a path of trial!. The bike falls from his hands, the slips down the mountainside, try to climb, get out but still falls. His bike is too heavy and bulky, No one would be able to get her out of there. Does not pass anyone. Fabrizio is a few meters from him Crow, but down at the side of the mountain and travels in a piston diameter 120 per hour. While the other goes, Nani tries to make impossible Mule.

A helicopter of the French television, follows the whole sequence, the cameras follow the efforts of animal crazy. The aircraft remains on the scene, It cannot relinquish himself. And try, try, and try again. The mountain is bigger than him but Nani continues, coughing up blood, trying to climb over. Then drops to the bottom of the Valley, Slow down, is sitting, the bike stutters and is out of control, He walks with difficulty because it is unmanned, Nani is clinging to the handlebars but semi-passed out. The bike moves forward slowly to inertial force, then bends to the ground with his helpless pilot. The helicopter comes to rest at his side. Nani trembles, She's cold, is terrified. "You didn't hurt", the surrurra inside the helmet Gerard Roltz, France Television journalist. No, you haven't done nothin', fell from a standstill. But inside you that bad: "stupid! It was enough to make half a turn, Instead I tried to climb Everest!”

The Grand Champion, hope that seven years earlier had caused to be written by himself, is once again on her knees. Thanks to Guido Conter for having represented in words what the video could not.