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