The Long Beards, the faces dug, the reddish powder stuck on him, the recessed eyes, hands with huge calluses, dirty bikes, unpainted, Welded, patched up. Paris-Dakar veterans look like this on saly-portudal beach, 80 kilometers from the finish, the night before the big arrival on the ocean wetdry of the Senegalese capital.
The great adventure is almost over. The real heroes are the bikers, arrived in about thirty of the 180 who were — among the survivors also six Italians: Peak Three, Marinoni fourth, Zanichelli 13°, Crossbowmen then disqualified for being towed in the last stage together with Gagliotti - Wikipedia and Gauri. As soon as they arrive they look like scary ghosts, they look like corpses riding motorcycles. Those who have slept for 22 nights on average three to four hours each time and drove for twelve hours, Thirteen, fourteen or even more, in the middle of the desert or on the dangerous clay tracks.
Winning the Paris-Dakar, says rahier, it's nicer than conquering a world cross. Peak: 'The French didn't want an Italian winner'.
They're tired on the edge of collapse. Just one night, though, spent by the sea, just a five- or six-hour sleeper, just the almost certainty that we've made it to review, the morning after, of human beings again, people who gladly and without arrogance, at least among motorcyclists, your own adventure. Gaston Rahier he's a blond Belgian, small little with coffees neither long nor short, and nice: looks like the comic book asterix. And’ him who won, riding the bmw mammoth. He made it for the second year in a row, bingeing the first place just when he seemed inevitably defeated by our Franco Picco. "Winning a Paris-Dakar, " said Rahier, two-time motocross world champion — it's nicer than winning in the cross.
To get to this beach you must have spat blood. Here more than the bike is the man who wins, in the cross instead motion and assistance are too important. This test is nice because here all bikers have the same problem, that is, they are alone, in the desert or in a forest, so there is solidarity among all, you help each other, you try to be together. With Peak, that I've known since the cross, we're really friends, we've come a long way together.. We find that Rahier's official BMW has changed a lot compared to the previous edition. "Bmw has done a lot of work on the bike," Rahier replies.. The engine today has more torque, the best seal frame, suspensions work more effectively and the whole thing is lighter". Ten meters from the winner lying on the sand together with other Italians here is the defeated, i.e. Franco Picco.
And’ with teammate Marinoni, with the two honda-italia drivers Balestrieri and Zanichelli, with private Gualini. I'm waiting to face the last effort, but the refreshing wind and ocean view has already transformed them compared to the previous evening. We ask Picco where he lost the race. "I would say — replies our interlocutor — that I lost it in Kiffa, the day I got lost together with Rahier. And’ happened because Auriol had lost a platform and had stopped to replace it. If I had followed Auriol, i wouldn't have missed it because he, the 'desert fox', never gets it wrong, while Rahier has less sense of orientation. But there more than the first I lost the second place because losing we allowed others to come under..
But when he believed he had won? "In Tichit, — Picco replies — when they have re-made the ranking three times. The first time They had given me 44 minutes ahead of Rahier, the second my advantage had been reduced to 23 minutes and the third they had placed me in second place less than seven minutes. I was sure I had arrived in time to check, Instead, then, they said it wasn't so. I felt for a moment de-stolen of victory. I thought it wasn't nice to treat myself like that.. Anyway, even third okay, Via! I think the French were bore bore that an Italian was the winner., One, then, arrived for the first vol-ta. Already arriving in Dakar, Believe, it's a big satisfaction. And’ so beautiful that when there are concomitances between cross-country races and African races I will choose Africa".
So these French people made it a little bit’ Dirty? "It clearly bothered them," picco says, "that it was an Italian who won.. When in the Ténéré I started in the lead they said “who starts in front here you lose” and instead they came-to just 11 minutes from Rahier. I held on and then everyone was amazed and even pre-occupied. From then on they kept a special eye on us and we had to give up assistance because our vehicles were out of the race and only those who are still in the running can assist. One hand, though, the damage to all even the vehicles out of the race, though, to us has been banned more than others. Good thing they helped us a little’ the French of Sonauto-Yamaha ».
What was the most difficult stretch? "There was the myth of the Ténéré desert," says Picco, "but mauritania's desert is worse: Here, the sand is very fine, like water, submerges everything. And even the hard tracks of the final stages were terrible. The third final stage involved crossing a forest following the, so it was written on the “road-book property”, the footprints and tracks of animals, too bad only that of the tracks there in the middle there will have been twenty thousand and all tight for a motorcycle, let's imagine for cars and trucks".
In such a race, what are the problems of navigation and orientation? "I had participated in the Pharaohs Rally," says Picco, "and I had made a mistake and learned, so I had decided to follow the “road-book property”, instinct and, if you could, Auriol, that's all.". The illusion of making it for Picco is over after being in charge of the race for a long time, for the pilo-ti of the Honda-Italia team, Instead, much earlier. Crossbowmen and Zanichelli blamed technical woes and bad luck, while demonstrating, as pilots, to be at the level of the best. Zanichelli came to an end with his left foot destroyed. Balestrieri was disqualified for being towed a few kilometers before Dakar when he was forced to end up at sea to avoid indigenous children too warm and the organization noticed and was inflexible as it was for Gagliotti and Gualini.
Taken from Motorcycling March 1985