Sabine during the 1986 Paris-Alger-Dakar rally, on 4 January.

Thierry Sabine (13 June 1949, Neuilly-sur-Seine – 14 January 1986, Mali) was a French wrangler, motorcycle racer and founder and main organizer of Paris Dakar.

In 1977 he got lost in the Tenere Desert during the Abidjan-Nice Race and realised that the desert would be a good location for a regular rally where amateurs could test their ability. In December 1977 he organised a race from Paris to Dakar and devoted the rest of his life to its organization.

Sabine was killed when his Ecureuil helicopter crashed into a dune at Mali during a sudden sand-storm at 07:30 p.m. on Tuesday 14 January 1986. Also killed onboard was the singer-songwriter Daniel Balavoine, helicopter pilot François-Xavier Bagnoud, journalist Nathalie Odent and Jean-Paul Lefur who was a radiophonic engineer for RTL.[1] Sabine's ashes were spread at the Lost Tree in Niger, which the rally thereafter described as the "Arbre Thierry Sabine".[2]

He was featured in the movie A Man and a Woman: 20 Years Later released in 1986.


  1. ^ Motorsport Memorial
  2. ^ Lawrence Hacking and Wil Clercq, To Dakar and Back: 21 Days Across North Africa by Motorcycle, p.7