The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


Later Trans-Saharan Crossings

La Croisire NoireThe first Sahara crossing was made in December 1922 by five tracked vehicles, led by Haardt and Audoin- Dubreuil. From January 1921 onward, the Citron plants were producing a new type of vehicle equipped with endless rubber treads allowing them to drive off-road over a various forms of terrain. This brilliant invention was the brainchild of a talented engineer called Adolphe Kgresse. During a demonstration in the presence of Andr Citron, the marque's founding father was taken by the idea of producing vehicles capable of moving over unstable terrain and of doing 40 to 45 kph on roads ; he instantly realized the full importance of the invention.

Starting out from Touggourt (Algeria), Georges-Marie Haardt, Louis Audoin-Dubreuil and a team of 10 people, including several army officers and a geographer, made it to Timbuktu (Sudan) in 20 days. With 5 Citron Kgresse tracked vehicles, members of the "Haardt-Audouin" mission completed the first direct link between Algeria and French West Africa. With much pomp and ceremony, the first trans-saharan mail delivered by car was handed to Colonel Mangeot, commander of the region of Timbuktu, on January 7, 1923. But what was it exactly that made these men set out to conquer a region considered to be one of the world's most inhospitable ? It was quite simply a great idea. After World War I, the plan for a safe and quick link between mainland France and Equatorial Africa appealed to colonial settlers and industrialists alike, and met with a favourable reception in military and scientific circles. A great idea which the car at long last was to make possible. Trusting his equipment, Andr Citron was convinced that the link could be made within 20 days, and history was to prove him right.

After successfully crossing the Sahara Desert with a motorized expedition in 1922, car manufacturer Andr Citron decided to launch another such expedition across the African contintent in 1924. On October 28, 1924, 17 men in eight half-track vehicles headed out of the Algerian village of Colomb-Bechar into the eastern Sahara. Their mission: to film a 19 month journey that would take them through much of the entire African continent, not to return to Tenerife, Spain until June 26, 1926. The so called "Croisire Noire" captivated the French public and was a major publicity coup for Citron. The film "La Croisire Noire" (Black Journey), the 70 minute movie made in 1926 by Lon Poirier, documented the Citron Kgresse expedition in Africa in 1924-1925.

On 04 July 2000 Libyan leader, Col. Moammar Kadhafi, expressed support for a proposed Trans-Saharan railway line, saying it would facilitate the movement of peoples and goods between countries bordering the Sahara desert. Addressing a crowd of thousands of people on Sunday in Zinder, 900 km east of Niamey, Kadhafi said the distance between the peoples and countries who share the Sahara desert needed to be bridged. The Libyan leader stressed the need for Sahelians to develop their countries, practice good governance and rationally exploit resources available to them, adding that he also insisted on the need to turn the Sahel into a green paradise. Kadhafi had been touring various member countries of the Economic Community of Sahelian states on his way to the OAU annual summit in Lome.

The Dakara mapIn 1977, Thierry Sabine got lost on his motorcycle in the Libyan desert during the Abidjan-Nice rally. "Rescued from the sands" in extremis, he returned to France defeated by these dreamlike landscapes. He then promised himself that he would share this discovery with as many as possible and lived for a single goal: take a maximum number of people into the immensity of this sand. This led him to imagine an extraordinary journey originating in Europe. The route would then continue to Algiers before crossing Agadez and ultimately leading to Dakar. The plan quickly became a reality. On 26 December 1978, as 182 vehicles turned up in the Place du Trocadro for a 10,000-kilometer journey into the unknown, destination Dakar. The encounter between two worlds sought by the event's founder unfolded on the African continent. Among the 74 trail-blazers who made it to the Senegalese capital, Cyril Neveu, at the handlebars of a Yamaha 500 XT, wrote the opening entry on the honours list of the greatest rally in the world.

After the murder of four French citizens and three Mauritanian soldiers in the previous days before the start and answering the strong recommendation of the French Ministry for Foreign affairs not to go to Mauritania, the 2008 edition of the rally was cancelled. Terrorist acts identified by the French authorities threatened the rally directly. The 31st edition of the Dakar, the first one in Latin-America, saw the victories of Marc Coma in the bike category, Josef Machacek in the quad category, Giniel De Villiers in the car category and Firdaus Kabirov in the truck category. In total, 113 bikers, 13 quad riders, 91 car teams and 54 truck teams finished the rally-raid, that was notably marked by the exceptional enthusiasm the Dakar generated among the crowds in Argentina and in Chile.

Join the mailing list

Page last modified: 15-11-2011 18:54:31 ZULU