4L Trophy™ Rally – 21 years old already!
In winter 1996, Jean-Jacques Rey and a few friends from the Paris-Dakar Rally were in Mali to map out new routes towards the Senegalese capital.
It is a well-known fact that, when friends who share a single passion meet up, they will start to put the world to rights, especially when they share a passion for adventure and for Africa.
At a bivouac in the Sahel, during the inevitable aperitif around the campfire that Jean-Jacques casually stated that “I’d have loved to have been able to do this when I was 20: exploring the desert and experiencing such an amazing adventure.” But at the time, none of us could have afforded to buy a 4×4.
Everything seemed to be out of reach and nothing more than a dream. After dinner, the discussion at the campsite continued.
Some people suggested that “you could do it with normal cars.” “Why not?” exclaimed Jean-Jacques. “You’d just have to find a cheap car that was reliable enough to travel over the desert trails.” The result: the simple idea had begun to take its course.
Upon his return to France, Jean-Jacques, as part of his working life, organising trips by 4×4 and off-road motorbikes, decided to return to Morocco in a Renault 4L to examine the feasibility of an adventure endurance rally in the country.
The route was designed and… it worked! Mamy, the Renault 4L, could go everywhere, even over sandy terrain! The 4L Trophy™ Rally was born! Désertours set up communications with students to try to pass on the message – which was easier said than done.
In late February 1998, three crews showed up at the start, unsure of whether they would get any further.
Go or no-go? The question was asked, but Jean-Jacques decided to set off regardless, with the support of his 4×4, a logistics technician, a mechanic, a doctor and of course, himself.
Désertours’ staff did wonder whether the boss had lost his marbles, and although the answer appears obvious today, it took several years and the help of students at ESC Rennes Business School, from 2001 onwards, for the adventure to reach its current scale.
In the 4th Rally, in 2001, 50 cars set off, growing to 460 by 2005 and 1,000 cars in 2008 and today, the 4L Trophy™ Rally has earned its reputation for excellence.