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Dakar Classic 2022


by Saharan Company


Step 1: What happiness, or almost!

The first stage of the Dakar Classic will have kept its promises. Strong in our motivation and ready to fire our navigation equipment regularly, we set off at full speed, two hours late this morning. For safety reasons, the wind being too strong, the race management had in fact postponed the start… this will have given us time to get to know some friends from the Classic!

The adventures of #724 and #752 will ultimately have been very similar on this first leg: the first regularity portion carried out to near perfection. The deviations from the average target speed were very small. It didn't take much for the start to be completely satisfactory: a wadi (the local wadis!) filled with very soft sand/pebbles got the better of the two crews, like many others. Fortunately, these are only a few minutes lost for our two teams, who instantly learn new lessons so as not to fall into the same trap again in the future.

The second leg, more delicate in navigation, will have taught us that regularity is a new category and that we still have a lot to learn from it! We feasted, driving together, the sublime landscapes surrounding us: immense black mountains on which a layer of golden sand comes to die… over hundreds of kilometres.

Long live the Dakar and look forward to tomorrow!

Step 2: cancelled!

Stage 2 of the Dakar Classic has just been canceled by decision of the race management, for safety reasons. The monster floods that have affected the region in recent weeks make the planned tracks absolutely impassable. Pierre Lenfant, responsible for our category, has just made the announcement to us and immediately organized an avoidance route for us to reach the Al Qaisumah bivouac.

It will therefore be a rest day for the competitors in the Classic who will take the opportunity to prepare for the superb stage that awaits us tomorrow.


Step 3: Learn… fast!

Stage 3 was finally the one that would allow us to resume the race, which had been neutralized yesterday. And she kept all her promises. Starting at the back of the grid, we still had a wonderful day riding together.

Across a desert pierced by a dazzling white light and golden poops placed here and there, we slalomed at high speed to pass from regularity sector to navigation sector… and vice versa. The competitors who shared our route today must have felt all the happiness we had in discovering this sublime region that is northern Saudi Arabia.

Our Toyota 78s are still just as pleasant and reliable. The return to the bivouac can be summed up each evening by a round of in-depth checks which, so far, has only confirmed their robustness. During the day, we spare them as best as possible because without them, there would simply be no adventure.

The result of the step is more than satisfactory. Maxime, who opened the ball for the two dromedaries of the Compagnie Saharan, had an excellent navigation and the two vehicles were thus able to place themselves in a rhythm of perfect regularity. There was not much missing to create the surprise.

In any case, the magic of the Dakar was on our side!

Step 4: Ups and downs

Having arrived in Riyadh this evening, it is not yet time for the first assessments of this week in Dakar. Spirits are high and turned towards a day that will have brought us some hiccups in our navigation and therefore, some dissatisfactions that remain to be corrected tomorrow.

These are things that happen on such an adventure and it wouldn't be what it is if we didn't encounter these “free” days that sometimes alter our desire as much as they bring us experience.

Fortunately, the day was once again beautiful. This morning very fast tracks alternated with stretches of sand (which earned Laurent and Maxime a great rescue sequence from the Iltis #710), and even a nice stretch of dunes. Later in the day, at the bend of some navigation traps judiciously set by the organization, we would have believed ourselves in Moroccan landscapes. This country is an open desert, which itself comes in a plurality of incarnations.

At the end of our track, rises Riyadh, the capital. Huge city with infinite borders, so it will be here that we will install our camels for the next four days. They are in great shape, so are we. That's good, the Dakar still holds all its surprises...


Step 6: On the way to the rest day!

Here we are already at the end of our first week of the Dakar Classic 2022. What can we say except that we have already spent exceptional days, surrounded by legendary cars and bewitching landscapes... Above all, we have each learned from our youthful missteps in navigation and in regularity, today again.

From now on, we have only one hurry: to take advantage of this first week to experience a second at least just as grandiose. The race direction told us about unimaginable scenery and still totally different from those we have just crossed.

How then can we not be impatient to get back into our buckets on Sunday morning?


Step 5: The quest for perfect regularity

The Dakar Classic is a regularity event: the winner is not the fastest but the one who maintains, throughout the stage, the closest to the "regularity speed", imposed by the organizer.

A new discipline for our two crews, learning is going well. Accurate to the nearest minute at the start of the event, then to ten seconds from the second day, it is now the second that the Compagnie Saharienne teams are looking for at all costs. And yes, because if we are here to understand and integrate the philosophy of the Classic in order to propose a customer offer in 2023, it does not mean that we do not take the challenge of the race 100%!

And it's this little game that we love to spend our days in the desert. What happiness (unknown until now!) to find yourself 0 seconds away from perfect regularity! However, it is not easy; and day n°5 reminded Laurent and Maxime that off-roading is a permanent game of chance. The rear-left wheel punctured in the middle of the regularity zone, and that was it for the quest for second! For Arnaud and Lucas, it was a smooth day ahead of them.

The 4 of us are still waiting for a final fine day of regularity tomorrow, which will end our first week of Dakar, we hope in the best possible way.


Day off

Rest day for the dromedaries of the Saharan Company! A consultation with Doctors Beraud father and son was scheduled for this morning... It will have taken the form of a simple routine check-up and will even have left us the afternoon to walk around the bivouac.

The second week of the Dakar 2022 is ours!

Step 7: All in length!

Today's stage will have opened the second week of this Dakar 2022. All in length and lunar landscapes, it took us into another dimension: that of southern Saudi Arabia. The landscapes are made of thousands of black mountains separated by seas of golden sands.

It was a good day for both of our crews. Speed, glide, pleasure, reliability. That's all we ask for as a cocktail to go to the end of these two weeks of adventure!


Step 8: Attack the dunes!

Today's stage is unanimously recognized as the most magical that we have experienced since the beginning of the adventure.

Leaving by slaloming in rocky canyons with the appearance of the wild west deserted by their cowboys, the stage gradually evolved towards large sandy expanses strewn with mountains rounded by time and adopting any shape that our imagination wants to offer them.

And then, the highlight of the show. The cathedral dunes. Whether you decide to cross them in their center or to follow them, they command immediate respect. Rising over several hundred meters high, they come to complete this painting in nature as a highlight of the show would make a memorable theater scene. As old veterans remember, there were only identical ones on rare occasions: Pharaohs, Dakar 88 in particular… and Dakar Classic 2022 now.

The sand, carrier, takes us on kilometers of rise in soft slope towards points of view which one cannot imagine without being there. Behind, the descents are steep and offer the camels a breath of air before attacking the next mountain of sand.

What happiness this day 8! Can we take another turn?


Step 10: Will you take a small puncture again?

No. 10 was going to be fast and sandy. The regularity times were good, the gaps were counted to the second for the two crews and the roadbooks followed to the letter by the navigators. The landscapes, it should be stressed again, were absolutely sublime and enveloped us in endless giant canyons.

After seeing all these beautiful rocks all day long, what could be better than going to kiss one more closely? What's more the same, 9 minutes apart and without prior consultation (sic)? Well here is the feat of the day: a double puncture for each car on the same stone, in this desert which is one of the largest in the world! Delicately hidden under the fech-fech, it was made for us!

Failing to be fully satisfied with the resulting scratch, we had a good laugh at this mirror misadventure that affected our two teams today. So another day of Dakar comes to an end… a clever mix of hope, performance, understanding, mistakes, hardships and above all… resilience!

Only 2 days left to continue and complete this waking dream.

Step 9: Confirmation of achievements!

The day's stage promised us yet another day with landscapes from another world: it kept all its commitments, once again. A very fast day, linking sandy wadi and large fast plateaus. For decorations: huge mountains, some of which point towards the sky while others are rounded to perfection by the wear and tear of time.

Difficult in such conditions not to miss a glance towards these immensities. And yes, we gave it our all to enjoy it! However, it was not necessary to lose concentration because the pace imposed by the level of the average speeds remained very steady today.

The results are very positive at the finish: Laurent and Maxime have had a great day while Arnaud and Lucas are holding on to the general standings!


Step 11: Secure, together

With one day to go, the difficulties that remain on our way seem to us, rightly or wrongly, each more threatening than the other. It would be too frustrating to encounter a mechanical problem so close to our ultimate goal, when our journey has been nothing but reliability and pleasure! So instructions were heard between us last night: day 11, it's groupir!

So here are our two HZJ 78 Compagnie Saharan parties at dawn in close formation across the dunes to the delight of photographers. Even with extreme caution, what a monumental step it is to share the track together, to evolve with serenity within these landscapes of creation...

Another beautiful day of looping with, in sight, the final finish line of the Dakar 2022.


Let's be there, Jeddah is waiting for us.


Stage 12: Dakar Classic finishers!

This is now done: Arnaud, Laurent, Maxime and Lucas completed the Dakar Classic 2022 at the end of the morning. It is with great happiness that we crossed this finish line that we had been imagining for a few months, but which we had been dreaming of for years.

The last 80 kilometers of the race were driven by our two Toyotas, all in tight driving and attentiveness. The apprehension of the last day gradually mixes with the impatience to reach the goal, until the latter takes over definitively for our greatest joy.

After warmly congratulating Nasser and Mathieu for their magnificent victory on the Rally, we took to the road to reach the great podium finish of the Dakar, on the Jeddah Corniche and celebrate this great adventure with dignity.

As we make our way towards what will be the last memory of the Dakar 2022, everyone's eyes are soaked with a humidity that we will gladly give to the ambient sandstorm even if no one is fooled: we are excited and happy.

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