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A Toyota Prius has driven from Paris to Dakar

​Plucky plug-in hybrid crosses the Sahara on a 4,350-mile adventure across Africa

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If you’re anything like us, the first things that spring to mind when the two words ‘Paris’ and ‘Dakar’ are uttered in conjunction are flame-spitting Peugeot 405 T16s and Rothmans-liveried Porsche 959s smashing across the desert during the infamous Dakar Rally. Well, here’s something to twist your melon, man. As a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid has just completed a 4,350-mile adventure across Africa from Paris to Dakar to prove you don’t need thirsty V8s and acres of suspension travel to complete such a trip. 

It wasn’t an Uber driver that got horrendously lost, either.  Rather, a team of plucky Japanese car enthusiasts called Team ACP. They formed in 1979 as they wanted to have a crack at the famous race and instantly got hooked, ending up competing in the Paris-Dakar annually for the next 12 years. But, this year, Team ACP wanted to retrace the original route that they first took almost 40 years ago, so pulled the plug out of the Prius and set off from Paris in March 2018 destined for Dakar with a Land Cruiser in support. 

The original Dakar rally began in 1977 when a French bloke called Thierry Sabine got lost on his motorbike in the Libyan desert during the Abidjan-Nice Rally. Stumped for a way home, he waited to be rescued. Something that turned out to be an enlightening event, as he then dreamt of a coming back again – this time getting less lost – and venturing through on a 5,500-mile trek across Africa in a quest for human discovery. Sounds a bit late ’70s hippie fantasy, doesn’t it? But the next year, he and few mates did indeed compete in the first event, and from then on it’s become an annual celebration that’s grown in scale, ambition and worldwide viewership.

Confusingly, the Dakar Rally doesn’t actually take place anywhere near Dakar now. Racing cars off-road around that part of the world got a little bit sketchy post-millennia so it now takes place in South America. But that didn’t stop Team ACP who, having crossed the Sahara and may camels, arrived in Dakar recently. Whether they’ll use the Prius as an Uber there is still yet to be known. But Team ACP, we doff our caps to you – what a trip.

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