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