The Paris-Dakar Rally is one of the last great motorsport adventures, travelling thousands of miles through the most challenging terrain on Earth. The event marked its 10th anniversary in 1988, but controversy and tragedy marred what should have been a celebration.
Ari Vatanen, victor in 1987, was favourite to win with the awesome Peugeot 405. Despite challenges from the Land Rovers, the Mitsubishi Pajeros and fellow Peugeot driver Juha Kankkunen, the double World Rally Champion dominated until the bizarre and controversial events in Bamako, when Vatanen’s car disappeared, along with his hopes of triumphing. Despite the contentious conclusion to the 1988 Dakar Rally, the 13,000km, 22-day odyssey across six countries provided some amazing racing, featuring the likes of Andrew Cowan, Patrick Tambay, Jacky Ickx and Henri Pescarolo.
Dakar legends Cyril Neveu and Gaston Rahier once again headed the entry in the motorcycle battle, but the victory would be fought out between Edi Orioli and Franco Picco in a dramatic contest.
The organisers had designed one of the most demanding routes ever for the 10th anniversary, and it proved too much for many – the 600-strong field was decimated on the very first day in Africa. Tragically, the tough terrain took a heavy toll, claiming the lives of competitors and leaving many, including Motocross legend Andre Malherbe, badly injured.
This review features action-packed highlights from a year which will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, plus interviews with the stars as the event – and the controversy – unfolds.