1979 Paris–Dakar Rally

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1979 Dakar Rally
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1979 Dakar Rally, also known as the 1979 Paris–Dakar Rally was the first running of the Dakar Rally event. The rally began on 26 December 1978 from Paris, France and finished on 14 January 1979 in Dakar, Senegal, interrupted by a transfer across the Mediterranean. Cyril Neveu won the motorcycle category on a Yamaha, while the car category was won by Alain Génestier in a Range Rover.[1]


182 competitors (80 cars, 90 motorcycles and 12 trucks [1]) contested the inaugural Paris-Dakar Rally, departing the Place du Trocadéro on Boxing Day 1978 to embark upon a 10,000 kilometre journey to the Senegalese capital of Dakar via Algeria, Niger, Mali and Upper Volta. All the vehicles that took part were classified together, although they would compete separately in subsequent editions of the race.

Cyril Neveu won the rally aboard a Yamaha despite not winning any individual stages, taking the lead on the sixth stage after Patrick Schaal (Yamaha) fell and fractured his little finger.[1] Jean-Claude Morellet, competing under the alias of "Fenouil", had been running second until he was forced to retire as his BMW suffered engine failure with less than 200 km of the rally left to run. That promoted Gilles Comte (Yamaha) to second and Philippe Vassard (Honda), the only competitor to complete the Bamako-Nioro stage in the originally allotted time before it was extended, to third.[1]

Alain Génestier's Range Rover was the best of the cars in fourth, ahead of the Renault 4 of the Marreau brothers. Neveu's brother Christophe had led early on in the rally after winning two of the first three stages in his Range Rover, but got lost on the stage between Arlit and Agadez along with around a quarter of the remaining competitors.[2]


Stage Date From To Dist. Winner (cars) Winner (bikes)
1 26 December 1978 France Paris France Montlhéry 3.6 France C. Neveu France C. Desnoyers
27 December 1978 France Montlhéry France Marseille Liaison only
28–30 December 1978 Transportation to Africa
2 31 December 1978 Algeria Algiers Algeria Reggane Liaison only
1 January 1979 Algeria Reggane Algeria In Salah 270 France J. Privé France C. Rayer
2 January 1979 Algeria In Salah Algeria Tamanrasset Liaison only
3 3 January 1979 Algeria Tamanrasset Algeria In Guezzam 373 France C. Neveu France R. Potisek
4 January 1979 Niger Assamaka Niger Arlit 230 France G. Daurangeon France P. Schaal
5 January 1979 Niger Arlit Niger Agadez 231 France P-L. Moreau France J-C. Olivier
4 6 January 1979 Niger Agadez Niger Niamey 230 France C. Marreau France J-C. Olivier
5 7 January 1979 Niger Niamey Mali Gao 448 Stage cancelled
8 January 1979 Mali Gao Rest day
6 9 January 1979 Mali Gao Mali Mopti 600 France A. Génestier France G. Comte
10 January 1979 Mali Mopti Mali Bamako Liaison only
7 11 January 1979 Mali Bamako Mali Nioro du Sahel 417 Italy C. Giraudo France P. Vassard
8 12 January 1979 Mali Nioro du Sahel Mali Kayes 270 None declared France C. Rayer
13 January 1979 Mali Kayes Senegal Bakel Liaison only
14 January 1979 Senegal Bakel Senegal Dakar 96 Monaco H. Rigal France G. Comte
  • The above distances (in kilometres) refer only to the competitive timed part of the stage, which make up 3,168 km.

Leading Results[edit]

Pos. No. Competitor(s) Vehicle Class
1 12 France Cyril Neveu Yamaha XT 500 Motorcycle
2 2 France Gilles Comte Yamaha XT 500 Motorcycle
3 23 France Philippe Vassard Honda XL250 Motorcycle
4 162 France Alain Génestier
France Joseph Terbiaut
France Jean Lemordant
Range Rover Car
5 131 France Claude Marreau
France Bernard Marreau
Renault 4 Car
6 23 France Alain Schaecht Honda XL250 Motorcycle
7 143 Italy Cesare Giraudo
Italy Antonio Cavalleri
Italy Mario Cavalleri
Fiat Campagnola Car
8 3 France Christian Rayer Yamaha XT 500 Motorcycle
9 141 Italy Tommaso Carletti
Italy Amarilli Carletti
Fiat Campagnola Car
10 162 France Alain Vandekerkhove
France Daniel Pichot
France Gérard Dutertry
Toyota BJ Car
  • Of the 182 starters, 74 completed the rally.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d "History of Dakar - RETROSPECTIVE 1979-2007" (PDF). Dakar. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  2. ^ "Christophe Neveu". dakardantan.com. Retrieved 2015-01-01. 
  3. ^ "Classement du Paris-Dakar 1979". dakardantan.com. Retrieved 2014-12-30.