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14 January in Race History: Dakar Triumph and Tragedy

The Dakar will be in the regular headlines today as the 2021 race comes to a head in Saudi Arabia tomorrow.

Three other Dakars finished over the years on 14 January. And there was a catastrophe too.

Alain Génestier’s Range Rover (above), Cyril Neveu on a Yamaha and Jean-François Dunac driving Pinzgauer drove home to win the car, buke and truck categories in the first ever Paris to Dakar on this day in 1979.

Fourteen years later, it was Pierre Lartigue who took his third Dakar car win in a Citroën ZX, Edi Orioli his fourth bike win on a Yamaha and Viktor Moskovskikh in his Kamaz truck that took to the 1996 winner’s ramp.

And 2021 leader Stéphane Peterhansel took hia Peugeot took a record 13th Dakar win as the 2017 race finished in Buenos Aires. Sam Sunderland took the bike win for KTM and Eduard Nikolaev won again for Kamaz.

All of that was however dwarfed in 1986, when the founder and organiser of the Dakar, Thierry Sabine (36, in white above), singer-songwriter Daniel Balavoine, journalist Nathalie Oden, radio engineer Jean-Paul Lefur and pilot François Xavier Bagnoud died when the helicopter they were flying crashed in a sandstorm while following the race.

In other racing down under, Jo Bonnier won the 1961 New Zealand Tasman series Levin International races in his Cooper T51 Climax. Jim Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax (below) beat Jackie Stewart’s BRM P261 to the ’67 win, while Dickie Attwood’s BRM won the second race that year. Darrell Waltrip beat the rain to win the 1979 season opening NASCAR Western 500 Grand National at Riverside.

Formula 1 drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Narain Karthikeyan were both born on 14 January, the same day that Jaguar confirmed its three-year XJR world sports car program in 1986. The Genial F1 and Le Mans winner, constructor and inventor of thar famous Tab, Dan Gurney passed away aged 87 in 2018. Two-time grand prix starter Vic Wilson (70) and former CART team owner Carl Hogan (71) both passed