Monday, May 27, 2024

Pascal Thomasse to enter 5th decade of Dakar competition in 2024

Pascal Thomasse is one of the Dakar Rally‘s early pioneers, making his début in 1983 and competing eighteen more times over the next forty years. Now in his seventies, he will make his twentieth start at Dakar in 2024 with MD Rallye Sport, driving an MD Optimus EVO 5.

Thomasse entered five Paris–Dakar Rallies during its youth in the 1980s, between which he starred in the French rally scene with a national championship in 1986.

After only running twice in the early 1990s and retiring from both, he did not return to Dakar until 2005 when he made the event an annual stop through 2015. His best finish came in the 2013 Rally of ninth overall. During this stretch, Thomasse won the 2009 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies title (the predecessor to the current World Rally-Raid Championship) for 2WD competitors.

Thomasse did another attempt in 2020 and finished thirty-first before taking a hiatus due to Mauritius’ COVID-19 travel restrictions. His longevity means he has competed at all three Dakar host locations, with the Paris–Dakar route between 1983 and 2007, South America from 2009 to 2015, and Saudi Arabia in 2020 and 2023.

The 2023 edition, forty years after his maiden Dakar, he returned in an Optimus EVO 4.5 for MD Rallye Sport with former Dakar bike rider Gérard Dubuy as his navigator. The duo placed nineteenth in the T1 category with a best stage finish of tenth in Stage #2.

Thomasse will remain with MD for the 2024 Rally, but Arnold Brucy will take over as co-driver. Brucy is a bike rider who ran the 2017 Rally, and competed in the 2023 race as the navigator for Claude Fournier who finished eighteenth in T3.

Besides racing, Thomasse and Brucy are integrating a philanthropic effort into their programme by partnering with Rêve et Espoir to help construct a school for underprivileged children with disabilities in western Mauritius.

The 2024 Dakar Rally begins on 5 January.