Check Out the Citroën That Won the Dakar Rally 30 Years Ago


Three decades ago, the Dakar Rally used to start from Paris, as it was dubbed Paris-Dakar Rally back then. The French capital was last used as a starting point for the Dakar two decades ago, the year when we had the first woman to win the Dakar Rally, Jutta Kleinschmidt. But let us go back another decade. Back in 1991, the Paris-Dakar Rally was won by Ari Vatanen, who managed to earn his hat-trick in the competition with a Citroën ZX. The dual-chevron brand had replaced Peugeot in the Dakar, and Vatanen had won the 1989 and 1990 editions in a Peugeot, so it was only natural for him to make the shift to the sister brand. Also, in 1991, Stephane Peterhansel earned his first Dakar title. Back then, the French rider was competing in the motorcycle category with Yamaha. From that 1991 Dakar win, Peterhansel embarked on a long journey that brought him numerous wins on two wheels, followed by participation and subsequent wins on four wheels. Returning to the car that was driven by Ari Vatanen to victory in 1991, it has reappeared in public after many years in a private collection. Right after the competition and the promotional tour of the Dakar-winning vehicle, Citroën put the ZX rally raid in its museum. Later on, the French company sold the vehicle to a private collector, who remains unnamed. For many years, the ZX was hidden from public view until Max Girardo picked it up for an undisclosed sum. While it is painted red, with its engine compartment retaining the shade of yellow that made it shine in the desert, the vehicle still has its original tires, as well as numerous other original parts. Since the 1991 win, Citroën has racked up a few other overall wins of the Dakar Rally, but the French marque decided to retire in 1997 after a rule change. That year marked the beginning of Mitsubishi’s era in the Dakar Rally. As a reference, also in 1997, Peterhansel equaled Cyril Neveu’s record of five wins in the motorcycle category and set his own a year later with another win. Citroën had not won anything since 1996 when it was racing with the ZX. The French vehicle’s successful run was interrupted twice, in 1992 and 1993, by the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution. Peterhansel switched to racing cars in the Dakar starting 1999 and managed to win the event three times with Mitsubishi and once in an X-Raid Mini Countryman. Stephane Peterhansel was en-route to a win in 2014 but was ordered to leave his teammate to get the win. In 2015, Peterhansel joined Peugeot, Citroën’s sister brand, and won the Dakar in 2016 and 2017, thus bringing important wins from the Sochaux marque that had not competed in the Dakar since 1990, with Ari Vatanen. At the 2021 edition, Peterhansel was back in a Mini, this time in a John Cooper Works Buggy, and won the Dakar yet again, which cemented his reputation as the most successful competitor in the history of the race. He is currently with Audi Sport, along with Carlos Sainz and Mattias Ekstrom, and all three drivers will compete in the 2022 Dakar. We are less than a week away from the start of the 2022 Dakar Rally, so be sure to watch this 30-year-old Citroën that won three decades ago.