Back to Library >
ti icon


The Dakar: Part one

1 year ago

not bookmarked


Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder


12 January 2023

The perpetually youthful face belies preposterously its 78 years. We are in a tent, sheltering from the intense cold of the Saudi Arabian desert after dark in early January. Our conversation until now has been convivial but when asked what this event means to him, at once he is serious. ‘This race,’ he says, ‘this race, it…changed me.’ Changed in what way? A very, very long pause. It’s not that he doesn’t know what to say, just whether or not to say it. ‘It made me a less bad man.’

It made me a less bad man. The person in question is eight times F1 and five times Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx. And when you ask him which of what he describes as ‘my three careers’ was the most important, he does not hesitate. Though he did the Dakar Rally 14 times, and won it just once, it is the third act of his professional life he places above his far greater successes in either Formula 1 or sports car racing.

If you’ve not been, it’s hard to understand. The cars he drove then, the cars they drive today, are nothing like the machines that made him famous. With double the weight and half the power of the 1960s cigar tubes, the befinned, slick shod 1970s wedges, or the inverted wings he raced in the 1980s, these cars are nothing and nowhere by comparison. And yet, come to the Dakar for a day, get far enough out into the desert to see it for real and you’ll have no trouble at all understanding why it changed Jacky. Who knows, it might even change you; just a little bit.

Start your 30-day free trial to continue reading this article.

Begin free trial

Already subscribed? Click here to log in.