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Interesting Info About All Things Land Rover

Range Rover Classic Returns to Dakar

  • Greg Fitzgerald
  • Jan 22, 2021
Range Rover Classic at Dakar Rally

The Range Rover Classic, the winner of the 1979 and 1981 Dakar Rally, returned to the iconic event in competition this year as part of the “Dakar Classic” rally, a competition category for vehicles built before the year 2000.

The Range Rover has a storied history at Dakar, winning the 1979 and 1981 events and placing highly in many other events in the 1980s. This was the first return of the Range Rover Classic to the Dakar Rally since it went out of production.

The old Dakar champion trucks, from the Range Rover Classic to the Mitsubishi Montero (the 12-time champion of Dakar) to old Sunhill Buggies, are no longer competitive as Dakar has become a more high-performance and technical competition. Today’s competitor vehicles in the main race are highly customized high-performance rally cars with little resemblance to anything on a showroom floor beyond replica bodywork.

Thus, the Dakar Classic rally will be a regularity rally, where vehicles compete to match the assigned average speed on each leg, instead of being the fastest home. This will help keep these iconic classic trucks in good condition.

Each leg is 200km to 300km long, run in parallel to the main Dakar Rally but on a different route. The route is designed to keep the older vehicles from suffering mechanical issues or overheating. Long slogs up steep soft dunes are out…long slogs through sandy flats are in. The classic trucks will depart interspersed with the modern vehicles, mixing old and new, before diverting on their own path.

In the field of 24 classic vehicles for the 2021 Dakar Rally, there are two Range Rover Classics, both driven by the team Classic Competició. The two Range Rovers are joined on the team by a vintage Mercedes-Benz Unimog.

 

Range Rover Classic #215 at Dakar

 

One, a 1991 two-door 3.9-liter V8, is driven by the Spanish team of Juan Llopis and Francesc Xavier Guillem Coromines. Llopis is a motorcycle enthusiast with a strong connection to Harley-Davidsons; Coromines is a veteran of seven Dakars. Their goal? Replicate the experiences of René Metge, the French rally driver who won the 1981 Dakar in a Range Rover and the 1984 and 1986 events in Porsches.

 

Range Rover Classic #214 at Dakar

 

The other Range Rover is a 1980 3.5-liter V8 two-door, driven by Spaniards Andres Vidal and Pere Maimi Codina. Codina is a Dakar legend, having competed 11 times and coming in 4th in the trucks event in 1997. Vidal is an endurance racer who has driven six seasons in the French endurance championship with a Porsche 911.

Unfortunately, the Range Rovers did not replicate the efforts of 1979 and 1981 in the sands of Saudi Arabia (the host of Dakar for the next decade), with Llopis and Coromines in 12th and Vidal and Codina in 21st. However, with hopes of a return of the Classic Rally in the future, there is plenty of time for the Range Rover Classic to podium once more.

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  • Written By
  • Greg Fitzgerald
  • Adventure addict. '90s Land Rover daily driver. Historic preservationist. Personal vehicles: 1994 Discovery I, 1994 Range Rover Classic, 1961 Series II.
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