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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

 

Fenouil and Herbert Scheck in a moment of rest of the Dakar 1983

Fennel, Africa as a destiny

And a chapeau is not enough when you meet, talking or writing about Jean-Claude Morellet, class 1946, a childhood spent in Cameroon. Already, Africa as a destiny, even before you start. A degree in philosophy, on the barricades in Paris, the restless, 68 French, He entered the drafting of “Moto Journal”, the most important magazine. From graph was passed to the task of inspecting. Transformed it into extreme conditions. Projected tests of motorcycle over long distances, especially on African soil. Somehow helped to fuel the new spirit of adventure, collected and exalted by Thierry Sabine.

fenouil-1979

Fenouil during the inaugural edition of the Dakar rally 1979

The two characters met at Abidjan-nice, did friendship. When Sabine decided to take the road of the great adventure, It was Jean-Claude to make him change his mind on that-that Thierry prefigured as Dakar-Cape Town. Not planning to Paris that, from the point of view we provide, It would be the city, an ideal setting for an event of this magnitude. To carry out a reconnaissance was Morellet Yamaha XT 500 provided by Sonauto.

The “before” could not be. From technical expert which had decided that the right bike would be a twin-cylinder, heavier but more performance of “Mono” nipponica, House with which she had already entered into a commitment. Was supposed to be one of the Yamaha team with Neveu, Auriol, Comte, Olivier… He asked his BMW a means. The request was accepted and turned to the preparer-test pilot Herbert Scheck.

Dakar misfortune that of 1982, ended with a retreat

Dakar misfortune that of 1982, ended with a retreat

To tackle the marathon chose the R75 road. A few changes, fuel tank, the rest of series. Two BMWs at the start in the first edition of the 1979, those of Morellet and Scheck. It went bad, German stopped almost immediately, so did Jean-Claude, too fragile proved the means set up quickly and in a superficial. Morellet's intuition proved too forward, Yamaha one-two with Neveu and Comte. In 1980 Jean-Claude, that everybody called him familiarly “Fennel”, brought the twin of Munich on the fifth place overall, While in 1981, the year of the triumph of Auriol, She placed fourth.

Had seen far away. His resume to Dakar marked a retreat, with the BMW GS in 1982, a 9° in 1983, the 11° with Yamaha 600 XT Ténéré and another retreat (BMW 1000 GS) in 1985. From motorcycles to the passenger compartment of the car, as Navigator. In 1987 finished third with Shinozuka with Mitsubishi and retired a year later with Zaniroli on a Range Rover. In 1989 He called the Peugeot. He placed fourth with Frequelin, on 205 Grand Raid in 1989, While in 1990 He crowned his career with a second place alongside Bjorn Waldegaard.

Feouil and Scheck 1983

The race of life “Fennel”, adventurer, journalist, novelist, photographer, It is only a sliver of what has managed to accomplish. Organized, among the many races, the first rally of Tunisia in 1980 and especially invented the Rallye des Pharaons in Egypt in 1982. A race second only to Dakar. When her father Thierry Sabine, Gilbert, He decided to fold and give up the helm of the big race, thought for him “Fennel”. Was the 1994. One year only, but it was a choice dictated by continuity. RAID, books, articles, photographs… “Fennel”, himself a character from fiction.

Text taken from “Dakar hell in the Sahara” by Beppe Donazzan published by Giorgio Nada Editore

BMW GS  800 1981-3

The official BMW Dakar team 1981

Official BMW team at presentation of the Dakar 1981: Fennel, Auriol and Neimer.
Special tsk www.passion-dakar.com

MOTORCYCLE/CYRIL NEVEU

Cyril Neveu Dakar 1979

Cyril Neveu escorted by “Fennel” during the first Dakar 1979

1984 BMW

BMW 980 Dakar 1983

The 3 BMW 980 officers of Auriol, Fenouil and Loizeaux in a moment of rest to Dakar 1984