The Paris-Dakar challenge first took place an amazing thirty three years ago. The brainchild of Thierry Sabine this incredibly gruelling race through the Sahara Desert became known as one of the most prestigious rallies throughout the globe.
It all began when Monsieur Sabine was taking part in the Abidjan-Nice Rally and he got lost in the Libyan Desert. He was so impressed by his adventure and the amazing landscapes he encountered that he decided he needed to share them with others who were as keen as he was on rallying. He subsequently planned a rally which was to start in Europe, take a route through Algiers then down through northern Africa to Agadez, eventually finishing in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.
Thierry Sabine came up with a motto for the race which has become synonymous with the rally – ‘A challenge for those who go – a dream for those who stay behind’. This race has tested peoples’ ability and determination over the years and many have fallen foul of this challenge including the English Prime Ministers’ son, Mark Thatcher who got lost in the Sahara during the race in 1982. Like Thierry Sabine, Mark Thatcher and his co-driver had to be rescued in the desert.
The Paris-Dakar from the early days gave the best motorbike riders and rally drivers the chance to prove their worth and winning this prestigious event was something that was very coveted. But the rally has not been without its problems and in 2008 it had to be cancelled due to the unrest in Mauritania.
The security in Mauritania meant that the race was no longer safe enough for rally drivers to take part in it and for this reason the Paris-Dakar moved to South America in 2009. It became known as The Dakar Rally but remains today the most gruelling challenges for both drivers and machines.
Some say that it takes a little bit of madness to take part in the The Dakar Rally and others think that Monsieur Sabine’s own modicum of madness to even plan such a race in the first place was something to be marvelled at. Today there are fleets of back-up vehicles which are there to keep things moving, but back in the first years of the rally this was not the case at all with many competitors left very much to their own devices. This meant many drivers and bikers never finished the race at all.
In 1978 Thierry Sabine started a rally in La Place du Trocadero which was to cover 10,000 kilometres over unknown terrain to a far distant destination of Dakar. There were seventy four brave trail-blazers who took part in this first ever rally and it soon became known as the greatest rally in the entire world. Today although on a different continent, this incredible rally still attracts the mad and the brave from all corners of the globe and remains the biggest challenge any competitor would ever have to face in the world of rallying. Spectators and fans follow The Dakar Rally with as much passion as the competitors themselves. It is just another proof of man’s desire to be the best at something which is more than just a challenge but a test of nerves that was set by the now very famous French man, Monsieur Thierry Sabine.