Jean-Claude Olivier, the former team manager of the Yamaha France Dakar team and a Dakar racer himself, was killed in a traffic accident on the A1 in France on Sunday morning. Olivier was 67 years old.
Olivier was quite simply the man at Yamaha France where he worked for 44 years before handing over the reigns to Eric de Seynes in 2010. Known as “JCO,” Olivier took part in the first-ever Dakar Rally in 1979 and had his best finish in 1985 when he was second to Gaston Rahier.
It was as a team manager in the Dakar Rally where Olivier had his greatest success, winning six times with legend Stephane Peterhansel between 1991 and 1998. He was also instrumental in getting Yamaha back involved in the Dakar Rally in 2004 with David Fretigne. Fittingly, Yamaha was leading the Dakar Rally at the time of his death with Frenchman David Casteau.
In addition to his ties to the Dakar Rally with Yamaha, Olivier owned the Sonauto Yamaha teams that fielded riders like Christian Sarron and Patrick Pons in various road racing World Championships.
Olivier’s daughter was also in the Mercedes he was driving, but she escaped with minor injuries.