May 28, 2024

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The Dakar Rally Legend Comes to Rétromobile

Photo: DPPI

Rétromobile 2024, the international exhibition dedicated to vintage car enthusiasts, has a surprise in store for visitors to its 48th edition: Special historic vehicles from the Dakar Rally. 

The Dakar Rally is a benchmark sporting event — a true epic covering 9,000 kilometers, launched for the first time in December 1978 by Thierry Sabine. Over the years, the event brought together drivers and co-drivers from all over the world to test their own limits and those of their two- or four-wheeled machines.

Photo: DPPI

As part of the 2024 edition of Rétromobile, a unique display will showcase some of the iconic vehicles that have left their mark on the history of the race. Not only that, but some of the biggest names in Rally-Raid racing, including Cyril Neveu, Claude Marreau and André Dessoude, to name but a few, will be on hand to share their experiences and answer questions from the public.

Among the highlights of the exhibition is Thierry Sabine’s XT 500, on which he was reported missing for three days and four nights during the 1977 Abidjan-Nice Rally. Rescued at the last minute, he was deeply affected by the ordeal, and a few months later decided to launch a new adventure: the Paris-Dakar Rally. The 4L used by the Marreau brothers in the first edition of the rally and Daniel Nollan’s Renault KZ “La Gazelle” will also be at the show, recalling the beginnings of a competition designed primarily for amateur drivers. Manufacturers such as Peugeot and Porsche, who left their mark on the 1980s and 1990s, will also be in the spotlight, with iconic models such as the Peugeot 405 Grand Raid and the Porsche 959 symbolizing their dominance at the time.

Within the competition, a category open to vintage vehicles has also been created, bringing together 174 amateur drivers and co-drivers in a regularity race, the Dakar Classic.

207 SAINZ Carlos (spa), CRUZ Lucas (spa), Team Audi Sport, Audi RS Q e-tron E2, Auto, action during the Stage 4 of the Dakar 2023 around Haïl, on January 4th, 2023 in Haïl, Saudi Arabia – Photo Julien Delfosse / DPPI

In keeping with its motto “the past always has a future,” Rétromobile will also be exploring the latest technological developments by displaying the Audi RS Q e-Tron. This car is symbolic of the third chapter of the Dakar Rally which, after Africa and South America, has since 2020 taken place in Saudi Arabia. The next Rally will set off on 5 January in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, and will finish one prologue and 12 stages later on 19 January in Yanbu.

“By revisiting more than forty years of history through this exhibit, we want to pay tribute to all those involved – drivers, co-drivers, organizers, manufacturers, celebrities, amateurs, spectators, mechanics… – who have contributed to making this event the greatest Rally in the world,” says Romain Grabowski, Director of Rétromobile. “Having myself had the chance to take part in the 2022 edition of the Dakar Classic, I think I can say that the Dakar Rally is as much a mechanical challenge as it is a human one, one of those rare experiences that mark a person’s life forever. As Thierry Sabine used to say: “A challenge for those who go, a dream for those who stay behind”. It is precisely this part of the dream that we aim to share with the exhibition’s visitors,” 

185 Ickx Jacky (bel), Brasseur Claude (fra), Porsche 959, action during the Paris-Alger-Dakar 1985, Paris Dakar, from January 1 to 22, 1985 between Paris and Dakar, France to Senegal – Photo DPPI

“In the world and history of motor sports, the Dakar occupies a place of its own. The era of the pioneers was also one in which adventure was made accessible to amateur sportspeople, driven by the call of the desert and hitherto virtually inaccessible territories,” adds David Castera, director of the Dakar Rally. “The vehicles as well as the men who testify to this period at Rétromobile reflect this particularity: the Marreau brothers’ Renault 4L rubs shoulders with Ari Vatanen’s Peugeot 405, because then just as now, the challenge of the Dakar was aimed at immense champions as well as those affectionately known as ‘leeks’. United by the same passion,” 

Rétromobile takes place from January 31 to February 4, 2024 in Paris, France. Learn more here.