Pic Of The Week: Dakar Rally Then And Now

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With today's POTW teetering on the cusp of a brand new year, we felt it was time to look forward into 2011 and to a new year of motorsport.

We didn't have to look too far, mind you, because tomorrow (provided you're reading this on the last day of 2010) marks the ceremonial start of the 2011 edition of the Dakar rally in Buenos Aires Argentina.

These days, heavily modified off-roaders dominate what remains one of the world's toughest feats of motorsport endurance. This is a genre epitomised by the VW Race Touareg, which took victory in the 2009 and 2010 events and looks set to be a top contender for 2011 honours, too.

But it wasn't always thus. Back in the 1980s - when the world was basically mad - Porsche sent a supercar to battle the desert rally, and it won. At a loss as to what to do with its 959, which had been developed for the still-born Group B circuit racing formula, Porsche decided that it would modify it for what was then the Paris-Dakar. It duly did so and, in 1986, took victory with René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne.

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Two very different Dakar weapons, two very different eras. But which appeals more? A 400bhp rear-engined supercar careering across the surface of Mars, or a 310bhp diesel off-roader leaping improbably through sand dunes?

Of course, with the wonders of the internetweb you don't have to choose, so we've provided you with both...

Merry New Year etc...

Porsche 959:
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SuperSize (2048x1536)

VW Touareg:
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SuperSize (2048x1536)

Comments (37) Join the discussion on the forum

  • dinkel 04 Jan 2011

    SP DAF 3600 PD 1987 Jan de Rooy:

  • Denorth 03 Jan 2011

    after first day - Mini All4 Racing is 57 min off he pace (technical issue). Generally fight is between VW and BMW

    and speaking of tracks - well there is KAMAZ leading without visible issues. Iveco, DAF, GINAF are out

  • MC Bodge 02 Jan 2011


  • GM182 02 Jan 2011

    Porsche first did the Dakar in rally-spec 911s in 1984. I can't remember the results but I'm pretty sure it was including Rene Metge driving the lead car.

    In 1985 they brought three 959s and a brace of service trucks however all three failed to reach Dakar.

    In 1986 they brought three cars again with further development and again comprehensive back up. They got 1st 2nd and 5th if I recall correctly. Jacky Ickx placed second I think. Their main opposition was Mitsubishi which brought about six Shoguns with an A & B team. That might have been the year Ted Toleman ran a Metro 6R4 as well.

    In any case I was lucky enough to see the 1986 winning car in Sharjah, UAE when they were shooting some promo stuff for the launch of the Cayenne and I and a couple of other local journos were invited along. Jacky Ickx was at the wheel of the 959 and I got a ride with a local rally champ in the 1984 car. I know the 959 was detuned but it still had a turbo set-up. The main memory I have is how bloody small, hot and uncomfortable it was in there bashing over dunes - to do it for 12 hours a day or more while navigating must have been some endurance feat...

    It was quite a privilege as the engineer telling us about the cars said, "Usually they are in the museum in Stuttgart with a sign on the bonnet saying 'do not touch'".

  • chrissyr32 02 Jan 2011

    Wow...959...Anyone remember the TAMIYA RADIO CONTROLLED ONE??? Memories flooding back...someone must have a pic/link????

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