Hubert Auriol – who sadly passed away in January, aged just 68 – was not only a three-time winner of the Dakar Rally, but the first to win it on both two wheels and four.
He won the race for BMW in 1981 and 1983 as well as winning the 1992 event on four wheels. Little wonder that a statement from the Dakar organisers after his passing said: “He inspired generations of riders and drivers and has been an integral part of the rally throughout its history.”
Born in Ethiopia on June 7, 1952, the Frenchman was to become a force to be reckoned with during the early years of the Paris-Dakar Rally as it was originally called. Auriol would take part in that first event in 1979 and would take his first stage wins in 1980 before claiming his first overall win on the BMW R 80 G/S in 1981.
He would take his second outright victory in 1983, again on the BMW, leaving the German firm for 1985 and moving to Cagiva. He came close to winning the Dakar for the Italian brand in 1987, but would break both ankles towards the end of the event.
Moving to four wheels in 1988, he would take his third Dakar Rally win – for Mitsubishi – with Philippe Monnet as his co-driver. He and Monnet would win that event by less than five minutes overall from their own team-mates on a tough event that went from Paris down to Cape Town in South Africa.
Between 1994 and 2004 Hubert would become part of the Dakar Rally’s events team as the race director of the event, even returning as a driver for Isuzu at the 2006 event. He died on January 10, 2021 suffering from cardiovascular disease and complications resulting from the coronavirus infection.