1986 Sabine

1986-2021 | They've passed 35 years since Sabine's farewell

The helicopter envied him all. They could hear him coming from afar as we trudge on the track. Holes, Jumps, Dust. Especially dust. That impalpable fech fech through which not only can you not see, but you don't even breathe. He passed and from the belly of the Ecureil of Aerospatiale a giant lettering fired: Thierry Sabine.

It was not possible to confuse him. Whether it was the blond, Skinny, Nice Francois Xavier Bagnoult to guide him that himself, flew very low. He touched the slopes having fun, sometimes to target us. If he wanted to stop you for any reason, he did it by whizzing over the roof and then placing himself further hovered in the air. The other helicopters flew higher, ready to intervene in the event of an accident, but he was the shepherd dog of a scattered flock, Sometimes, for a thousand miles.

If you saw him standing up on the vertical you could imagine him with your gaze fixed far away on a point on the horizon. Maybe dozens of clouds of sand strewn across the desert that he would hunt, Met, Driven. If they were not blasphemies those that flew at him, certain, it wasn't about compliments.




And the feeling that everyone felt for him in those moments was identical: Hate; but also love for what he could do; push you where, alone, you'd never go.
Not even paid at any price. We confided it at night, at the bivouac, skin a few hours allowed for sleep before the inevitable “Briefing” of the six, when it would reappear, iadmissible, Sly, histrionics to harangue the rally: at paris-dakar we all journalists, photographers, pilots, mechanics we would also go for free.

And behind him we were ready to run for a month in a row. As long as Thierry showed up at dawn to give us the news about the next stage he would never leave us behind. We didn't just forgive him for the helicopter.. That contraption that he vented by keeping him away from the dust. Far unapproachable, like any god who respects. and for
this reason at every end “Dakar” we punished him, we veterans, on the beach that leads from Sali Portudal to the capital of Senegal: flew invariably into the water as soon as he got out of his helicopter.

1465160_10202535770305607_1163106290_nBy now it was a rite and a tradition together. But at that moment he also spoke of the desire for a partial revenge that would purge him of his mockery from the heavens. A purification that allowed him, at every 22 January of the year, to get out of his role as the executioner of the sands to become again, the 1 January of the following year, the general of an army that for three weeks would not stop unless on his orders.

An order that he, Anyway, he would never give. Neutralizing a stage you could, it was a way to slow down the race when the sandstorm swerved the caravan and forced the drivers to shelter, Leeward, of your cars or motorcycles, but stop the race ever. It wasn't really in his mindset. The Beautiful, the hard, the bestial of the Dakar is that the rally would still continue, despite everything.

It was the only certainty of an otherwise imponderable race. And also the firm point of Sabine whose obstinacy in trying to balance in accounts between private individuals and officers was expressed mainly in making the raid harder. Year after year, as if that could help the1000370_10202535774785719_1168520339_n gentleman of the race, instead of penalising them further.

But this was above all his fixation: man had to prevail over the means, so in recent times the stages traveled with the only help of the compass had increased. At first there had been the only Ténéré. Then it was Mauritania's turn. This year even Thierry found the infernal Bilma-Agadem with his 75 dune beads and, not pleased, also exhumed Guinea.

At the time of the tragic crash, where in addition to Sabine four other people lost their lives, everything was on the edge at the Dakar. Probably himself too. It wasn't just the means in the race that were tried, nor just the pilots, but also his organization, and certainly Thierry Sabine “Le Magnifique, 1999”, “Jesus, 19”, man by many nicknames was not spared.

He was traveling in elFRANCE-SOIR No. 12.885 DU MERCREDI 15 Janvier 1986icopter, It's true, but it was his voice a little’ Shrill, metal at the exit of the megaphone that woke you every morning at the 6 for the “Briefing”. You could still have dust on the corners of your eyes, feel wacky, he wouldn't have been. His morning throne was the shore of one of africatours trucks, and as the race went on, and less and less were the competitors, the more the speech became a moting between friends.

A bang and response with the contestants on the thread of subtle humor, all his own, typically French. Untranslatable. And introduced, although for two years Now Thierry was repeating that he would repeat the briefing also in English. He had also mentioned this this #8217;year, on the Tepasa, the ship from Sete to Algiers, but no one had believed him.

Then he himself, Later, seeing Hubert Auriol speak to a group of journalists in the language of Albion had confided to him: “But how do you? I just can't”.
A weakness not to speak languages. He was ashamed of it.. But also an incredible thing that the rally, born as an event French, had managed so relatively quickly to expand, make yourself known as the only, the last adventure of the 80s′. Something people loved. The People of the Street, not only pilots. I wonder if he's going to survive..

Text by Paolo Scalera
Taken from “Dakar-Dakar 2”

IMG018 copy-X2

Dakar 1996 | Winkler's Call to Dakar

Were 4 years that I no longer did the Dakar, i missed it, i finally get better organized and fix the work commitments. In 1991 Nikon decided to assign the distribution to our group, and you had to make a new company the nital in the footsteps of the swa, have been years of fire where obviously you couldn't do anything but put all the effort into this project. But I was missing something. I missed the adrenaline of dakar adventure. After 4 years practically just work i deserved it, and so I decide: i'm going to do it.

I get in touch with Bruno Birbes and Pollini of the Assomoto team with whom I had attended last time. In addition to feelings of strong friendship for them, with Bruno we met at Dakar 1988, he was racing in a BMW and we were pretty much together for half the race, dividing anxieties and happiness, thing that bound us deeply even after the race. Their team was perfect: assistance, a logistics, and Struggling, Bruno's father-in-law, great mechanic who immediately put himself into operation setting up for me a kawasaki 650. The choice of the bike was easily dictated by the fact that Bruno was a Kawasaki dealer.

Free from organizational and motorcycle preparation commitments, I dedicate to physical and motorcycle training, making a great preparation. In December I was in splendid shape!

I don't even try the bike, but I have to say it was beautiful: simple, small and handy.

I take the plane to Granada where everyone is waiting for me and where the technical and administrative checks must be carried out. Small engraved: the taxi that from the airport took me to the hotel hole a tire, in a torrential rain and as a true gentleman I offer to help the female driver. Wet start, lucky start. In the morning we start for two tests, the first is immediately cancelled due to bad weather. The torrential rain of the night before did not seem to fall even for a moment. Not even time to get acquainted with the new bike that has become a block of mud.


aldo winkler 1996-7


After a transfer we arrive at the port for boarding. Everything is going well, there are bunks and you sleep. Non-secondary factor, since in the past you slept on the ground and there were no bunks for the ship crossing from Sete to Algiers. What a convenience! First bedtime I take the Ariam, the medicine for malaria. This time I decide for this drug because you take it once a week, and not every day. Clearly the dosage is higher and I get a terrible headache and scary nausea. When he wakes up he seems to have passed under a truck. It will be the last time I take an antimalarial.

Finally in Africa, it is always an emotion to land on this continent full of charm and adventure.

Let's go for the special, and it is important to become familiar with the bike in the first stages. It's a very technical special in the mountains, i'm not fit and i get so tired, I certainly still wear the effect of antimalaria mixed with tension. I don't start too well because both trips fail, i find out it's the magnet attachment on the wheel. Not so bad so much there was no navigation. Half special I'm without rear brake. Probably not yet used to the bike, I kept my foot too resting on the pedal and saw the repetition of many curves the oil came into boiling.

This is my first experience with GPS. Apart from the need to understand it well, by security, tells you the right direction and it's very reassuring. Without the anxiety that assaults you when you're not sure about the right breakup, (before they told you the tracks of the other pilots). But I immediately regret, following the tracks obviously straight for the waypoint, everyone follows the direct route, but i'm in the middle of a climb worthy of a world trial. I always wondered where those tracks were going.


aldo winkler 1996-17


GPS gives you the direction, but using it on the street and one thing, using it in the desert takes you in directions that lead you to encounter extreme difficulties. There are still tracks marked by other motorcycles, but this time I decide to go back and follow the roadbook literally. Beautiful old navigation methods are a safety, following the directions I find a beautiful and easy track. Unfortunately in the evening checking the ranking I realize that I am way behind and with many drivers in front of me very slow pleasure. Mannaggia to me that I followed the road book. Learning to use this infernal GPS many drivers had navigation facilities by overshooting me in the rankings. I'm starting to curse these new devilry a little bit..

The next day I leave for the stage. I feel good, shooting a lot and everything goes well, i'm going to remount many positions.

At some point the track has a bottleneck, tightens, slows down slightly, i reach another driver but there's a lot of dust and there's no way to get over it. I've been after him for a long time., but I get spaced and risk it all for everything, i want to pass it at all costs, but some dust i'll take a big peterne. At times I coat but I stand by miracle, i get ants on my feet for fright. I stop to check the damage, i see that the front rim is all branded and crooked. I give a pull to the rays and with the tail between the legs I finish the special flat plane. I arrive at the bivouac and only here remind me that the stage was "marathon" that is without assistance. I can't replace the rim and I'm forced to leave the next day in the same condition I arrived in.

You enter Mauritania, i knew those leads, I had already traveled them in previous editions, but due to the unrest in the area because of the belisarius front you run in a kind of corridor transened by balize, where the organization has strongly recommended not to go out so as not to run the risk of entering a minefield.

At the edge of the track are many UN pickup trucks.

The stage is very long and demanding with many difficult dunes, the sun starts to fall. I've done several stops at night in the past and I'm terrified of it., shot as much as I can, at some point the GPS loses the signal, I follow the tracks as long as I can and then I just follow the same direction. What anxiety. I continuously curse GPS, that finally picks up the signal and signals me that they're alone 3 km to go.



The next morning I have a hard stage ahead of me. You have to cross an erg of dunes very long, i get insabbio several times and I consume a lot of gasoline. I do two calculations, and the results tell me I'll never get to the end. I go slowly not to consume and luckily the track becomes smoother and I arrive with a drop only of gasoline in the tank. The race is starting to get really tough. I'm leaving for a very difficult stage, practically a huge floor of big stones that put me to the test. I get very tired, you can never proceed sitting down to rest your legs. I proceed standing on the bike, i'm so tired that sometimes i sit going to step duomo, arrival in the dark.


IMG 042 copy-XL


The next day the stage planned to travel the track in the opposite direction of the previous day. The traces are still evident and without any problem of navigation shooting like crazy, i reach several pilots. Everything was fabulous, i was really put well in the rankings, a single minor drawback comes from gps marking the route slightly to the left. Taken by the wetting and comforted by the fact that several other pilots were proceeding in that direction, you go on. What a beginner's mistake. We notice after several kilometers that by not following the GPS we had moved away from the track. So let's go back to Zouerat. There are seven of us, let's take stock, the track forked to V, and we followed in the footsteps of the previous day. One decides to cut straight, follow him in four, me and another we decide to go back, I don't trust GPS. No more. Let's go back to the famous crossroads, we realize that with the more miles made we would never get to the refueling of gasoline.



But the machines arrive, and mannaggia to them if only one stopped. Finally two Japanese stop, we ask him about gasoline, but it's really hard to get it out of the tank and we waste a lot of time. I'm on the right track, how long did I waste, i'll start pulling as much as I can, knowing that every mile made more with light are hours less given in the dark. Traveling at night is really a bad thing you don't see anything, the track is ruined by the passage of the whole rally and it's very easy to fall. In addition, the dunes, already difficult by day, at night they don't forgive you and you got so many times not having the reference of the end of the dune. I am deeply angry with myself for such a stupid mistake.

I do several kilometers with Alberto Morelli maybe and there we know each other better by laying the foundations for a deep friendship and we will run together many future rallies. Of course the night comes, as a result I fall several times, luckily there are few dunes but lots of camel grass,(are mountains of hard sand with tufts of grass on them the you have to zigzag, me if you take one the flight is inevitable). I get to one and of course as a good law murphy finds out it's a marathon stage. I clean the filter and check the oil, i was dry, i'll borrow it and collapse in morpheus's arms.

For the record, the 5 motorcyclists who cut straight didn't arrive and retired all.

In the morning we start again, the bike starts in a cloud of smoke. The night before in the dark I had put too much oil, I'm going to take some off and leave. The path is really hard, soft sand alternating with large stony. You make the Pass of Nega (a hellish place, i'd already done it backwards uphill, a hellish slope and remained famous because the cars almost stopped all so steep). But downhill the music has changed.


aldo winkler 1996-16


In 30 km from the stage arrival i'll take a pretty strong hole, nothing special but i hear a metallic noise. Slow down to see what happened: no brake. I stop and look better, I see the oil pipe cut out of the net and the swingarm on the right has detached sharply from the attachment turning backwards.

Floor of departure and arrival.

Charles Edson my friend and companion of many adventures welcomes me on arrival, i was desperate for my swingarm. We decide to go to the neighboring country to see if by chance there was a mechanic. Let's find a "saldor" as they call them around there. This immediately takes the torch, The Block! It's aluminum, you can't weld it like that! Bruno tries to get in his way, sees a chair and realizes that the legs are perfect to solve the problem, fit perfectly inside the swingarm, having rectangular shape and we stick them in and then we go back to the bivouac. All night we wait for the service trucks, it absolutely takes the a tig welding machine for aluminum.

Here comes the truck Honda France, they have the tig but the proverbial transalpine sympathy never denies, despite our insistence they do not lend us the welding machine. At three in the morning the Yamaha arrives and they are kind and promise me that they will help us. But I was very tired and I'm going to sleep, Bruno reassures me he will take care of the repair. Actually in the morning I find the swingarm welded and with an aluminum handkerchief closing the broken part.

Greeting Bruno, that was airborne, childbirth and at a pace of confidence i arrive in kaies.

This was also a Marathon stage so motorcycles take you to the closed park and it is forbidden to touch them. As I go to get my passport stamped because we entered Mali, i see pass a truck and i see that on has a green bike. I look at it better and it's a KLR like mine! I get the idea of changing the swingarm, I disassemble it all happy knowing that maybe so I could finish the race, and I'm getting ready for replacement, but i get caught right away. Commissioners misdeed me, I decide to eat a little in the dark and wait for them to walk away to try again later.


aldo winkler 1996-19


I am not a good mechanic but with patience and logic you do everything, it just takes me a long time to get things done. Also because in the dark and very difficult and you don't see anything, but of course I couldn't turn on the pile otherwise the commissioners would have found me. I can mount it, I was very tired but I can't mount the brake caliper and I realize it was different and there were different attacks. Back to the retired bike and I also take the pliers, all by taking a very long ride so i don't show up. I can mount it just to mount the wheel, it's up to the perno and I find that he too was different from my. I notice that my bike was from the previous year, while that retreat was from the last year and who knows why Kawasaki had changed so many particulars. I was very tired and I probably had a nervous breakdown., i started crying like a baby.



i'm discovered by the commissioner and probably seeing me in those conditions he felt sorry for me, and getting hold of it helped me finish the job that I wouldn't be able to finish anymore. The first light of dawn begins to be seen. As soon as I finished I hugged him and kissed him to show him my gratitude. A quick breakfast and we start again, tired but happy to be on my perfect bike as new.
(Nb: in Dakar I then reconstituted the piece with my broken, I discovered that the retired bike was of an Italian and now the Kawasaki is in my garage among the bikes I care about the most and inside the swingarm there are always the legs of the chair.

I had already made this special and I remembered it as a very long and very difficult stage. The landscape has changed and we run through a forest, after so much sand it's nice to see some greenery. You see animals, many monkeys. You also have to wade through a very deep stream, Auriol helps me and pushes the bike that had turned off. Along the riverbank there was a hecatomb of motorcycles, all with problems, weasted filters, water-filled mings. For once I'm lucky on my side, the kawa starts again almost immediately, after drying the filter.



You cross many villages, people you see at the edges, they all smile, express joy at seeing you. What a contrast to the big city, here we are practically armored in the field. The next day I leave for a mountain stage, the accumulated tiredness was so much, but you start to smell a certain scent of arrival. Arrive at a fesh fesh point (borotalco sand that you don't see the soil). Fall. The track was narrow, a car comes along, was definitely at the top of the leaderboard (but in the hustle and bustle I can identify her). He stops and starts playing like a lunatic, for me to free the passage. I try to do it as fast as I can, but I was really tired, very tired. Up the bike, that doesn't start, and out of care I push it to the side.

The Driver of the Car, spaced pushes me and throws me to the ground at the side of the road. His luck was that he managed to pass quickly. I was so angry That I told him so many of those swear words and curses that I was ashamed. In the fall broke the lighthouse and the water tank of the recovery radiator. Struggling to get back on track at a very steep spot. That pilot was lucky, because if I recognized him at the bivouac I don't know what I would have done.


aldo winkler 1996-33


On the last day there are two specials to go through and a lot of tension. The goal is to get there. The bike is at a state of exhausting, can't take it anymore. The last stage which leads to pink Lake there is a sand chestnut, and hearing the agonizing motor scream my heart. Anxiety rises. I have in mind poor Angel Cavandoli who broke his bike at 3 km to go.



The arrival is a liberation! Arrived! It was becoming an obsession, Compete 20 days with this unique purpose fills with joy but at the same time there is also an inner emptiness. For me, the Dakar post is a situation to metabolize. You have to recover a deadly fatigue that remains for some time, but I also get a little bit of existential crisis. The Dakar da. The Dakar takes away. All the time.


aldo winkler 1996-4


This Dakar 1996 it's a prize, gave me so much and took so much, without Team Assomoto and Bruno Birbes I would never have made it. I also met a wonderful person, thank you Alberto.

Source photos and texts: Aldo Winkler's facebook page


Dakar 1985 | Beppe Gauri. Withdrawn it will be her!

by Nicolò Bertaccini

And now that's enough, this pebble is right to take it out of your shoes, Indeed, from the boots. Because there are a thousand documents around, all officers and on these appear only judgments: out of maximum time, retired, Disqualified, seventy-second with twenty-two finished at the finish line (!?). Instead, on Pink Lake and Dakar, in 1985 Beppe Gualini got there. That's it.. Certain, in his own way. But if you break an engine, you get towed, you fall into the sea, you pull spare parts i miss you were jeeg robot, then it's right that you're recognized what you've done.

Said, Year 1985, our Good Samaritan Gualini is riding a Yamaha Tenere set up with a kit Byrd. It has reached the penultimate stage, the Pink Lake and the finish line are one step away. It's not long, it's about managing what's left of the bike, an eye on out-of-time and it's done. The unexpected happens, Indeed, yet another unexpected. The bike stops. Beppe does a thousand checks, thousand checks but the bike no longer has any, the engine is gone, Cooked. It's not long, you can already smell saltwater but it's not enough. Beppe does not demur. He tries. From there on incredibly passes the byrd service truck (Belgarda Yamaha Racing Division) that "they didn't even stop, they knocked me down an engine and they left".

The truck was caught following the official drivers Belgarda, New but stops to figure out what Beppe needed. You need an engine, at one stage from arrival there is the possibility to unload one on the fly and let it try to mount it and make it work. A non-new engine, indeed a little’ undone. But with great merit: it would turn on and it worked. For Beppe starts a race against time, disassemble and reassemble in order to reach the limit. Then, after about twenty days of competition, with the bike that now stands together only by miracle and a physical fatigue that can hardly be imagined, ours starts to replace the engine of his Ténéré. Complex stuff in a workshop.




But Beppe has method, Knowledge, patience and inhuman strength. Replaces the engine and restarts. Certain, the bike starts again lightened by some useless infrastructure, as you can see in some photos. On the other hand, it's not like he could finish the commas., the important thing was to get to the bivouac with the bike on, then he could patch up further in view of the last day of the race. And we're on the fateful last day, the last stop, the one where in each driver's head echoes a single phrase "don't do shit". Yet, as we've seen happen for so many, the last km is always the most insidious.

Beppe runs with his Yamaha that now seems to have come out of the movie Mad Max. Runs along the wetdry, where the sand is more compact and easier to cross. Obviously an unexpected happens, otherwise it wouldn't be the Dakar. He's proceeding with two other pilots, are close enough. Suddenly an abnormal wave or in any case pushed a little’ further on the shoreline and here are the three who find themselves on the ground. Beppe takes a nice dip. He gets up biasing something in bergamo and tries to restart the bike by dumping anger and frustration on the starter pedal. Nothing. Try again and nothing. Try again with more and more anger until he breaks the kicksarter.

It's over., the bike no longer starts. Even if it's done by now, could load his bike on his shoulders and get to the finish line. Fate, however, did not end with Beppe and put another participant on the track. They tie the bike and yamaha gets carried away for a few meters. A hundred will be needed before a mumble and an outbreak announce the restart. The maneuver is not one of those prohibited, get help to start the bike is granted. It's done, the bike starts again and Beppe can take it to the finish line, holding your breath. Twenty-third recites the document in his hands. And in the end, among a thousand sites, thousand reportage, thousand official documents the only one that contains the truth, for us, is that of Gualini. He in the 1985 in Dakar we got there, within the time limit.


Dakar 1992 | Patrick Faure: when even Peterhansel asked me who I was…

It's true, at dakar there are special people. I have known many of them and with great amazement, even among the official pilots. Many, Indeed, everyone I've been dealing with, even for an exchange of jokes, they were all kind, available and not at all superior. Franco Picco didn't hesitate to disassemble my saddle and tanks to find the reason for a small inconvenience. Even when he hit me drunk in Montpellier, him and Edi Orioli they stopped to help me start again with a pat on the shoulder "come on, you can do it" that did more effect than any painkiller. Franco gave me the tools without hesitation... "you pay me at home".

Danny La Porte at Le Cap he made my time at the prologue and we joked up in line for dinner at the first bivouac in Africa. Meoni you didn't even need to look for it, greeted you first him and asked you how it goes. In the past, the "Bogio" Andrea Marinoni he told me "bravo, go easy..." and I "there's no problem, more than that I don't go!!”

But who even made me smile was the great Stèphan Peterhansel. At Le Cap he accompanies me in his camper van "Tullio Provini", with Chicco Piana and their respective ladies. The bike tucked half into the bathroom and half in the hallway. A tirade to Rouen where the checks were set up. I pass the administrative part and I go into a crowded shed of people with drivers lined up for brands. I push my bike and i squat, all Yamaha, private and officers, in the lead Motor France and Byrd.

I arrive and they already look at me, unique with the mechanics in tow and two young ladies who helped me keep documents, helmet and overalls, while Tullius and Chicco stroves to fix at me the obligatory rear lights which I had ignored. A few moments and in the shed burst ten (10!) my friends with a stadium scream "FIOREEEE" left Bologna without being able to tell me anything, all in a camper van of six. An incredible shame, even the fans!

Then finally we start! With mid-race road books tucked everywhere in your jacket, dressed like a palombaro from the cold that there was. Two days of state and provincial elections to Marseille, passing through Paris and Burgundy. In a stretch of mountain, it was snowing and the anxiety of arriving late blew me several refreshment points where the locals had set up real village parties with ramps, Arches, banners and interviews. In a small village they gave me a burning coffee and leaned two croissants on the filter case, away on the fly even there with the snack hovering over the tanks.

So I reached a group and queued, there were even the two official Yamahas and the pace was good for me, on the ground there was a thin layer of compact snow. When I got to a big service area, I see everyone's coming in. for a stop and full, i'm going to accode, but before we get in Peterhansel, probably fooled by the pile of snow at the side of the road, doesn't see the sidewalk and slips into the ground. I can hear him undead, his assistant (on road bikes) helps him lift with difficulty, then I go down and grab his pigtail and in three we pull up the bike.

As soon as you enter, together with the distributor, another stadium scream "FIOREEEEEE", four drunk friends, around wineries celebrating New Year's Eve! As soon as they saw motorcycles they ran screaming to hug me. I feel a hand on his shoulder and it was he, Peterhansel, looking behind my back to read the name and tells me: "excuse moi Fiorini, but you who are you in Italy with all you fans who take you with you?” My answer was: "none, i've never won anything, but I have a lot of friends". And more laughter!

Fennel 1979

Have you ever wondered: because Dakar?

Why Dakar? Have you ever stopped to think about why Sabine decided to end her adventure in the capital of Senegal? Several times we have tried to trace the origin of the choice, looking for certain information. The only things you find are hypotheses.

Certain, Sabine will surely have looked for a city overlooking the sea, with a port that facilitated the logistics of re-entry, a French-speaking city. But Dakar is not the only one. He could have chosen Algiers and thought of his raid differently, making it even easier to return to Europe.

In short, after years of studying the African race the answer didn't come up. Hypothesis only. Sensible, Legitimate, but hypotheses.

As often happens the solution of the problem is found by paying attention to how the question is asked, to spend time figuring out what to look for and what to ask, before you even start searching and asking.

So from asking ourselves "why Dakar" we have come to rephrase the question and ask ourselves: who might know? Who was in contact with Sabine and is still reachable today. With a unique answer that I miss the Storna Horse the name popped up immediately: Jean-Claude Morellet, known to all by the name of Fennel.

Fenouil is a journalist, photographer and motorcyclist French, one of those who participated from the first edition of the pioneering race organized by Sabine and who later was also Director Corsa.

We wrote to him and asked him if he remembered why Dakar, if there was a reason, if Sabine had ever told him about it.

The two met during the second edition of Abidjan-Nice, the one in which Sabine risked getting lost and that made him want to create a race that had the opposite direction, from Europe to Africa.

It was Fenouil himself, according to what he brings us back, to suggest to Thierry Sabine to go to Dakar. Fenouil had already reached the capital of Senegal in 1973 riding a Kawasaki Big Horn (the journey is told in "On a motorbike in Dakar in the sahara hell" Vertical Sea editions).

So the mystery about the choice of destination is this. The will of a restless and daredevil adventurer like Sabine to organize a race that would start in Europe and arrive in Africa and the experience of a photographer friend, journalist and adventurer who suggested the Senegalese capital.

Probably among the ingredients that made this raid mythical and immortal is the intuition to leave Europe, the visibility of the departure from Paris helped make the race legendary.

Text by Nicholas Bertaccini


Peak 87

Dakar 1987 – Belgarda, New, confidence in the mono

After Marinoni's forfeit is Peak the foreman

Yamaha's credentials after Franco Picco's success in the Pharaohs Rally – Belgarda are very high; the value of the pilots is out of the question: they'll go down in the race Peak, Medardo and Fat to replace Andrea Marinoni who won't be able to DAKAR 87 Peakrun because of the aftermath of an accident.

There remains only one mole: The bike is always the 660 Thumper. Light, handy and reliable, complains about the power problem, and therefore the maximum speed, compared to bmw and Honda twin-cylinder bikes and Yamaha itself 900 four-cylinder used by the French.

Lately, Paris-Dakar has been dominated by large. motorcycles that allow you to go to almost 200 Kirih in the immense desert sand straights and gain time against the smaller monocylidrids. The choice of Belgarda, New, Instead, seeks to take advantage of the skills of handling and more simplicity and mechanical accessibility.

A project also linked to the commercialisation of the means: although modified directly by Yamaha racing department in Japan, le Hold 660 reflect the characteristics of the standard product. The power has been increased to more than 50 HP, The capacity of the tanks is 55 while the dry weight barely exceeds 150 Kg.

Peak 1987 Copy

Features that in Yamaha's own plans should allow it to face the various multi-cylinder and recover in the paths of the savannah the time lost on the long straight stretches of desert.
Of the same opinion is also Peak: "To win the Dakar, it is not enough to have so much power. Others Picco_Auriol_Neveu_1987they'll go stronger, but driving a heavier bike also requires more physical effort. After many stages, fatigue can play a key role in not increasing the risk of falls and getting to the bottom.".

You have a little regrets about not being able to run with the FZ 900 bacou and Olivier will use?
"The French have been carrying out the FZ-derived engine design for some years, but so far they have not been able to gather positive results. I hope, because the brand to be defended is the same, whether it's a good year, but I've never tried it so I can't say anything. Let's wait for the Dakar to finish, we'll talk about it for the 88th.


DAKAR 1998 | YAMAHA dominates, but Austria Korps are pressing

PeterhanselAnd’ was the victory race – the number 6 and a record – announced and discounted Stéphane Peterhansel and his Yamaha 850 twin-cylinder. If for the driver French there is the satisfaction of having overtaken Cyril Neveu, standing at 5, for the Japanese company is the number 9. And it will probably be the last since Yamaha has announced its retirement from the “toughest race in the world”.

Leave space for single-cylinder, KTM and BMW, Probably, Honda's return. In fact, the supremacy of this fantastic duo has been very evident since the beginning of the race. Let your spirits in Europe, stages in France and Spain where the approach to Africa was a routine fact rather than a real race, “Peter” has quickly accumulated a considerable advantage, a detachment that he was able to administer with the usual intelligence in the second week.

Only small uncertainties in a triumphant path: some fall, slight technical problems with the fast-moving twin-cylinder Yamaha XTZ 850 Trx; In short, nothing that really could worry this great champion who could, though, no longer lining up at the Dakar with a motorcycle: "If Yamaha leaves – so he said on arrival – abandonment too. I'm too tied to this House to accept another offer. I could only go back to Africa by driving a car.".


He tried to undermine this overpowering KTM squadron.: a kind of motorized army run by the former pilot Heinz Kinigadner, made up of ten official pilots and a large number of private. The KTM LC4 660 they couldn't withstand the same pace as the Japanese twin-cylinder but they defended themselves very well by winning most of the special tests (12 on 19). On 55 pilots arrived on the beaches of Dakar well 31 they were riding a KTM.

Although Peterhansel was unapproachable – the same men of the Austrian House say so – having placed Fabrizio Meoni behind him, with a not-so-impossible detachment on 18 race days, it was a great performance. The Italian driver was the real opponent of the French: careful in navigation despite the continuous malfunctions of its GPS, a real hard man in enduring his 40 years and then the injury to the left shoulder, able to find the right way in a sandstorm and to be able to get to third and fourth place in the Dakars of '94 and '95.

And even he may no longer be kicking off next year since, despite being a “Official” to all intents and purposes, doesn't have a contract with KTM that protects him for the future. Returning to Italy he found his everyday life and a motorcycle dealership to run. Behind him, always with KTM 660, Andy Haydon, New York an Australian driver definitely used to the big spaces and already at ease at the first Paris-Dakar. And then a South African, Alfie Cox, already a valuable pilot in the enduro. These two pilots, beyond their very good ranking, demonstrate how even novices of the African marathon can assert their skills in off-road driving.


The lack of real tra traps in navigation has therefore brought out those who really go strong outside the asphalt, that is, enduro pilots. Let us not forget that Peterhansel himself is a protagonist of the World Enduro. Even our “Giò” Hall, several times iridescent in the category, went very strong, turning the race into a very long mule track. He placed 17th due to some road-book reading errors and some Ignition problems in his KTM. He also risked not finishing the race alone 2 km from the arrival in Dakar for a fall that left him unconscious for a few moments and with the bike almost destroyed.

OTHER ITALIANS Honour also to the other Italians who finished the very hard race: 24th Guido Maletti (Ben 11 Investments) With the Maletti 1998-1its Kawasaki KLX 650R, but he could have been higher in the rankings if he hadn't taken the nine-hour flat penalty for the electronic ignition malfunction. He did not lose heart and continued to rise in the positions. Gian Paolo Quaglino and his Honda XR400R ranked 29th. Quaglino is at Dakar Number 5 and it's the third that ends. Right behind, Aldo Winkler with the KTM 660. And’ one of the veterans with his eight holdings. The Turiner wins the fair-play award because, like a gregarious old, he generously gave to Giò Hall, blocked by electrical troubles and “Official” KTM, the spare electronic control unit of his Kappa.

And then it comes Roberto Boano (38but with 47 years behind), once a well-known crosser and now known as jarno and Ivan's father, much more than young hopes of the enduro. Made the Dakar with the trusted Honda Africa Twin, which is still a twin-cylinder but is light years away from the performance of the Yamaha that won; were nothing more than for the greater weight, the lower power and the different, and less sophisticated, suspensions. In 50th place Lorenzo Larry with his Suzuki DR 350. He did it all by himself, without a mechanic-co to help him, coming sometime late to the bivoiacks, but always spin-to from the solidarity of the other pilots.



Nouakchott (Mauritania) – “Africa I made it practically by myself and this more than a merit is a trouble, the biggest trouble that can happen to those running a Paris-Dakar. I still don't know if I'll be the winner, I hope for the Cagiva, for the Italian public who expect to see their own bike for the first time win this race, but it's good for everyone to know how things are”.

Hubert Auriol, a nice big boy French, always cheerful, elegant in manners and in speaking, looks more like a fine theatre actor than one of the “Beasts” who face every year this walking madness that is the Paris-Dakar. Auriol is a veteran of this speed race along deserts, savannas and mountains, Saharan Africa knows every stone, every dune, every mirage and every arcane deception. Yet the other day he too fell into one of the thousand and unexpected traps of the desert.

Auriol 1987-2 Copy

In northern Mauritania runs an old mining railway. The world's heaviest train passes through: five locomotives of over 3,000 horses each and 10,000 tons of iron on the wagons. And every time it passes, small shards of track, sharp as swords, squirt at the edges of the mass. Auriol, Vatanen and many other competitors for fear of getting lost in the desert wanted to follow the railway route. But the punctures came in bursts one after the other.

Since traveling in solitude, due to the questionable disqualification of the other two Cagiva drivers, poor Auriol lives with the nightmare of punctures. Because in this race l’ racing assistance can only provide it to teammates or other good-hearted competitors. So those who are further down the leaderboard end up slowly cannibalizing the poor bikes of their comrades. Today a wheel, tomorrow a clutch, the day after tomorrow a carburetor.

But Auriol is just. In the previous days he had also tried to mount the magical Michelin tyres, that instead of the inner tube have an expanded rubber doughnut. La Michelin, though, had studied them for Japanese motorcycles having not paid much attention to the Italian motorcycle company. So on Auriol's bike that donut got too hot, until it becomes a mush. And then the pilot French not if the’ is felt more than risking. He put on his shoulder a little’ of chambers d’ Air, like old cyclists, and went on alone to fight the battle with his rival Neveu.

He had a’ hour advantage over him and with five punctures if l’ it's eaten almost all. “In hindsight – he said – it's easy to choose, but the night before I didn't feel like taking a risk”. Yesterday, in a’ other hard stage all to the compass, managed to get glued to the rival with a little trick. Charged more gasoline, determined never to stop for refueling. And there’ he did. Neveu, on the other hand, stopped, he started on the attack but at the finish line he had only a handful of seconds.


A win by Auriol for a house like Cagiva would be a boon. “What can make a Dakar – says Roberto Attalin, head of the Italian team – I wouldn't know how to quantify it but one thing is certain: a victory at the Dakar is spoken in every remotest corner of the world and we have against all the’ Japanese industry. Just over a hundred people against thousands of specialists”. Right now 9 poor minutes divide Auriol and Neveu, Dakar is likely to end at the end of the year’ last moment.

Today c’ it's a very difficult stage, still all to be “Navigate” compass in the savannah of Senegal. The two are too experienced and too big to resort to tricks, but this year in the face of the hundreds of bewilderments in the desert, there are even competitors who have opened the hunt for the little boy to run for cover. Small, Light, son of blacks or Bedouins doesn't matter as long as he knows the slopes well. If they load it into your backpack and off to 180 per hour.

Better to have some’ weight extra but safe driving, so so at least they tell them. In cars, a’ other victory of Tambay, New1, which, however, does not bother Ari Vatanen's Peugeot that is the leader of the. The Peugeots are technically unbeatable for the power they have, but in the last few days they have risked several times to lose this race for the’ African inexperience of the Finnish pilot and the contrasts between him and his navigator, French Bernard Giroux, Tf1 commentator.

Before the morning start Vatanen sits at the wheel and in religious silence reads a passage from the Bible. He makes many good intentions but then in the race he does not trust his navigator and makes his head. After all, even his old fellow rallies had had had enough of him and his bad temper. On Sunday, Vatanen got lost in the desert, carrying other 104 cars hoping to smash it following the likely winner on a safe road.

Result: all stopped until late at night, they got caught 10 penalty hours. On Monday, he lost an hour on his direct opponent due to a puncture, French Zaniroli aboard a Range Rover. The ranking still says Vatanen, but it takes little to devil a victory that the house French has built with months of hard and skilful work on a car that, after being the queen of the rallies she is about to become the queen of Africa, as are the old ones today 504 where many of these countries continue to trudge overcharged on tracks where there are no other means of transport.

But the Dakar is not only the’ adventure of these dumbbell or steering wheel dies. And’ Also, and more often, the antechamber of death for many others. Yesterday came a poor wretch of French who had lost himself 10 days ago in the Niger desert. Two days and two nights still, sleeping at the’ I'm going to have no more water trying under the sun to repair his bike. Death was now there at a pace when luckily he was sighted by the “truck-broom” of the desert. A vehicle that travels with days and days of delay and picks up the damned of this race. To the poor, without needing to read the Bible, we offered a shower and a bed because he didn't have even a franc in his pocket. We asked him if he would ever do a Paris-Dakar and he answered: “And how could I live without?”.

Source Republic


Dakar 1986 | Franco Picco, two hours for bullshit

The stage is Agadez-Dirkou. It crosses the Desert of Ténéré on a fairly flat bottom and all of sand. It's a fortune, because the day before I dislocated my shoulder and I have a small fracture in my hand. I can drive with one hand, for some traits. I have overcome the moment of greatest despondency, 150 miles on the “tole ondulée”, with a shoulder out of place, that at the camp a doctor French managed to get back on the move with a masterstroke, a tight bandage and a “swallowed up” of pain pills.

Peak 1986 Copy

The bottom today is very tender, because of a sandstorm that hit the track. Last year was much harder and faster. Our replenishment plans, based on past experience, plan to fill up the Ténéré tree, After 200 kilometers, and then to do a whole pull to the finish line. I'm about 400 kilometers. But because of the soft sand the speed is much lower than last year, you can't get over the 110, 115 Km/h, consumption is higher than expected.

Initially I think it's a problem with the engine…

We travel together, Me and Andrea Marinoni, my teammate. When we are in sight of the oase of Bilma, well distinguishable even in the distance by the presence of a lighthouse that, just like those of the ports, serves to point the way to caravans crossing the desert, my Yamaha stops. Devil, I broke – I think – and instead I just ran out of gasoline.

Luckily Marinoni still has a litre, so we start to beam from his tank to my, with a funnel that we brought with us to fill up. We just think we're going to get to the oase, where we can refuel before we start again. From there to Dirkou, end of the stage and the special test, there are twenty more, twenty-five kilometers. As we tinker with funnel and tank come the first competitors with the cars.

Peak POWER1 1986

Porsches outperform us fast. We sign a Mitsubishi Pajero to stop and the driver, Strangely, because they don't usually dignirate us with a look, stops in a cloud of dust. Is Zaniroli… who like me ran out of gas right there. We just have to finish our transfusions.

Let's leave to stop, with my Yamaha back dry, right at 100 meters from the lighthouse. We are waiting for only soldiers with jeeps, but all diesel. I'm standing still, It's up to Andrea Marinoni to slip into the village in search of the sifirst gasoline. Go back in no time: In anticipation of the rally' passage, locals have prepared canisters; he bought one and retraced the track driving with the tin on the tank that slipped on all sides.

Peak3 1986

I start to empty. It's a nice clear liquid, Transparent, even if a little’ Oily. I immediately come to mind the words of our sporting director: “don't do gasoline in Dirkou because it's not good”. While Marinoni fills up his bike, who left with the engine running, I try to start my, but without success. Andrea tries to help me, but you don't need to, so we stop Gauri and Spanish MAS who have reached us, to help us out.

Nothing to do. The only result is to lose quite a bit’ time and Marinoni, who in the ranking is put better than me, decides to go ahead so as not to accumulate further delay. But when he rides, he also turns off his bike, and history repeats itself. Gualini tries to pull it with a rope, but once he falls and once Andrea, with no results. So that as they move away that way I begin to disassemble the candle and the filter, thinking there's some problem with the gas pump.

Peak 4 1986

I just approach the fuel to smell strange. I also make a military man around me smell and I have confirmation of my doubts : it's diesel! There's nothing else to do but look for gasoline. A soldier helps me and with his jeep we go looking for her. Of course Marinoni is still a little further ahead : I tell him to disassemble the tank and wait for me.

I wander empty until right down the village I find an old man who outside the house has a bin with gasoline in it.. The price is a friend: to give me a can she wants 500 Franks. From that moment it's a race in the race. We clean the tank, let's change the candle, let's throw a little bit’ gasoline in the carburetor and once all over with three pedals the Yamahas go into motion. I'm in a sweat bath, and after drying out hastily Allotment. Two hours late for bullshit! This, too,, though, is the Dakar.

From Dakar Dakar 2
Text Paolo Scalera
Photo Dune Motor


Dakar | Survival in a briefcase

In the two briefings that institutionally opened the Dakar, Paris and the one on the ship that took him to Algiers, Thierry Sabine never tired of repeating it if you get lost never abandon your vehicle. Never. Man's instincts, In fact, in these unusual cases it betrays : pushes you to seek help, but the first help a Paris-Dakar runner knows, Instead, who owes dice to his rescuers.

That is, it must make it easier for him to find. The first commandment, Therefore, is don't abandon the car. The corollary of Balise_2this doesn't paint it preferably yellow, color that makes it invisible in the desert by a helicopter. The second rule prepare to wait. A wait, it's clear, of a rescue that will not be immediate. Only after 12 hours, and anyway never at night, you can start with the first operation, the simplest, but also the most important. The ignition of the radio-balise.

In the equipment of each runner, In fact, there is a Samsonite briefcase that contains what is needed to facilitate the sighting. The heart of the equipment is a radio that operates on a single frequency band. His charge lasts 48 hours and signal, Continuous, it's a thread of Arianna for rescuers. But at night the desert is an immense unreferenced blanket and boundaries. It's time to fire the colorful rockets that with the vivid light of day would be invisible, while a smoke bomb can be launched when an aircraft, Maybe, crosses out of our reach.

A trickle of smoke, In fact, it's visible from afar, and it was thanks to the realisation that he had burned the tires of his car one by one, Simonin, Mauritania in the 1984 was found after three days of searching. The rubber in fact makes a lot of smoke and burns slowly. So the last resort, as it was at the dawn of man, it's the fire. For this reason, among the many recommendations for new members is to always have with them at least the matches, a knife and survival cover.

What is the latter? simply a very light aluminum foil that on the one hand reflects the rays of the sun, repairing from heat, while wrapping it on it island from the cold. Folded, it's in a pocket. But it's very easy to get lost? Sounds like a foregone question, instead, with small measures it is possible to reduce this risk to a minimum. The first, Of course, is that as soon as you realize you've gone the wrong way it's more prudent to retrace your tracks. Even if this takes away time.

Schott HardenIn the desert, any zip code, that is, compass course, you're following, will make a backward 180 degrees. It is imperative to resume the main track. And one of the tricks, simple but vital, is that when circumstances require constant deviations to avoid, Maybe, traits of track too ruined, you always know which way you leave it. If left or right. It's not hard, Intact, that by intersecting it in search of the strongest ground you can no longer remember which side it was on the last time. The “Track” African is not a paved road, it's just the route of custom from village to village.

It can get ruined and become impractical, at one point. A new custom will trace, then, a new track, Parallel, that will go back to the main one. And so dozens, hundreds of times. So much so that in the savannah more than in the desert the ground will sometimes appear as an inextricable maze of paths. We always talk, the Dakar, of competitors who have gone the wrong way by taking, for that, penalty hours. Well, that is, it almost always happens when the rally leaves the desert for the savannahs.

In the boundless expanses of the Ténéré, in fact, to help us there is the compass, and then the position of the sun. They mainly serve strong nerves. When vegetation forms impractical screens, there's no compass or sun that holds. Cards can be useful at most, possibly the military ones, very detailed, to realize your position. Your scant best crews have, and they're not just useful in times of emergency, Indeed, it's not uncommon to see pilots study them before the start. Make a note of the bivi, villages. As always, also in Africa, the best safety comes from prevention.

Source Dakar Dakar2

Text Paolo Scalera