Ari Vatanen won the eleventh Paris-Dakar rally raid for Peugeot on January 13, on the toss of a ten-franc coin!
After rolling his 405 T16 during the Prologue in Barcelona on December 26 and falling behind, Vatanen had been reeling in leader Jacky Ickx’s similar car throughout the 7000-mile trek across Tunisia, Libya, Niger, Mali, Guinea and Senegal. With the French team dominating, but the Finn rolling once more in the Tenere desert, team manager Jean Todt decided to issue team orders six days before the finish, and Vatanen won the toss.
The 1981 World Rally Champion had won the event in 1986, and led last year until the abduction of his car and his controversial subsequent disqualification for exceeding maximum lateness. His winning margin on this occasion was only 3 min 44 sec.
Third place was claimed by Patrick Tambay, leading a team of seven works-entered Mitsubishi Pajeros, three of which finished in the top seven.
Ted Toleman’s Metro 6R4-derived T89 Enduro suffered electrical trouble in Libya, his son Gary’s Range Rover was destroyed by an engine fire, and Andrew Cowan’s Pajero was stopped by piston failure, so no British crews made it to Dakar.