Auriol won the Dakar Rally on two wheels...

The Dakar Rally has given us some greats over the years. From Cyril Neveu taking the first championship to Stephane Peterhansel racking up six titles to Ricky Brabec conquering the 2020 competition, the annual rally raid has produced countless legends of the sport. One such icon was three-time Dakar champion Hubert Auriol and the King of Dakar has died at 68.

Born in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Auriol earned the nickname l’Africano and competed in the very first Paris-Dakar Rally in 1979. Aboard a BMW R80G/S, Auriol earned the Dakar crown in 1981 and again in 1984. Just nine years later, the accomplished rider took his talents to the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution team, winning the 1992 Dakar in a car. Known for becoming the first person to win the world’s toughest rally on two and four wheels, Auriol also acted as the Dakar race director for nearly a decade.

Auriol won the Dakar Rally on two wheels…

...and four.

…and four.

The French rider lived with heart disease for many years and contracting COVID-19 only worsened his health conditions. Unfortunately, Auriol succumbed to the novel coronavirus after battling illness since November 2020. In light of his passing, riders worldwide recognize the Dakar legend’s contributions to the sport.

“He inspired generations of riders and drivers and has been an integral part of the rally throughout its history,” said Dakar organizers in a released statement.

Thanks to Auriol’s inspiring 1992 Dakar win, champions such as Stephane Peterhansel and Nani Roma also won the rally by car. Hopefully, his legendary career will inspire current Dakar champions to take on the desert on four wheels after conquering it on two. Who wouldn’t want to see two-time champ Toby Price or last year’s winner Ricky Brabec take on the dunes in a buggy?

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