French rally legend Hubert Auriol has passed away after a lengthy battle with cardiovascular disease following a Covid-19 diagnosis.
The man affectionately known as The African was a legend of original Paris-Dakar, winning the grueling event twice on a motorcycle (1981 and 1983), and in 1992 became the first competitor to also win in a car, when the race spanned the length of the African continent.
Born in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia but, Auriol is perhaps best remembered for his herculean 1987 race while riding for the Cagiva factory in which he completed the penultimate stage after breaking both his ankles.
The naturalized French citizen later became the director of the race and was largely responsible for the Dakar’s rejuvenation in the late 1990s, running the Paris-Dakar from 1995 to 2003. His reign at the helm of the Dakar would see the race start out of Africa for the first time, when the event commenced in Granada in Spain in 1995,1996 and 1999, and also from Dakar itself in 1997 and 2000.
“The recent updates on the health of Hubert Auriol foreshadowed the tragic news received by the organizers of the Dakar during stage 7,” the Dakar organizers said in a statement. “The organizers of the Dakar, shocked and saddened by the news, would like to extend their sincere condolences to the friends and family of a man who was a guiding light throughout the history of the rally, with a special thought for his daughters Julie, Jenna and Leslie. He inspired generations of riders and drivers and has been an integral part of the rally throughout its history.”
Hubert also holds the record with fellow French motorsport legend Henri Pescarolo and Patrick Fourtick and Arthur Powell to circumnavigate the world in a propellor plane in 1987 in a flight that took just over 88 hours to complete.
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