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08/02/2024 News

This month in history: January 1982

TotalEnergies’ first overall win at the Dakar Rally through its brand Elf

It is still regarded as the stuff of legend. The Marreau brothers – Claude and Bernard – won the 1982 Dakar Rally in an Elf-backed Renault 20 Turbo that they had built themselves, recording a result that has gone down in racing history.

It was an exceptional achievement, managing to beat the factory 4WD vehicles that contested the race at the time. The two brothers from Eure et Loir – more globe-trotting adventurers than hardened off-road racers and who later became affectionately known as the “desert foxes” – acquired mechanical skills as they went along, using their knowledge of desert conditions and the African continent to beat the other 232 cars competing that year. At the time, the fourth edition of the Dakar Rally passed through four countries (France, Algeria, Mali and Senegal), covering a total distance of 10,000 kilometres, 5,963km of which on timed stages. The brothers’ approach was way ahead of its time. They entered a second, identical Renault 20 Turbo, full of spare parts and driven by Georges Vails and Jean-Marie Chanteux, to provide rapid roadside assistance. It proved to be a significant advantage, the crew even making use of its engine one night, just four days from the end of the rally. After this maiden win with the Elf brand, Total – now known as TotalEnergies – went on to win the 1991 Dakar Rally on its first appearance with Citroën Sport and the ZX Grand Raid, driven by Ari Vatanen and Bruno Berglund. Three further wins on cross-country rallying's blue ribbon event followed in 1994, 1995 and 1996, secured by Pierre Lartigue and Michel Périn.