In 1977 he got lost in the Tenere Desert during the Abidjan-Nice Race and realised that the desert would be a good location for a regular rally where amateurs could test their ability. In December 1977 he organised a race from Paris to Dakar, and devoted the rest of his life to its organization.
Sabine was killed when his Ecureuil helicopter crashed into a dune at Mali during a sudden sand-storm at 07:30 p.m. on Tuesday 14 January 1986. Also killed onboard was the singer-songwriter Daniel Balavoine, helicopter pilot François-Xavier Bagnoud, journalist Nathalie Odent and Jean-Paul Lefur who was a radiophonic engineer for RTL. Sabine's ashes were spread at the Lost Tree in Niger, which the rally thereafter described as the "Arbre Thierry Sabine".
He was featured in the movie A Man and a Woman: 20 Years Later that came out in 1986.
- Motorsport Memorial
- Lawrence Hacking and Wil Clercq, To Dakar and Back: 21 Days Across North Africa by Motorcycle, p.7
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