Two BMW-riding Dutchmen have won the third edition of the Heroes Legend classic off-road rally from Paris to Dakar. Riding for the Bert Duursma Motoren dealership team, Jos Bourgondien and Harrie Jacobi beat all challengers to win this tough ’rallye-raid’ event that started on 8 March under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and finished just last weekend at the Lac Rose in Dakar, Senegal.
Organised by former BMW factory rider and two-times Paris-Dakar Rally winner Hubert Auriol, the aim of the Heroes Legend is to offer the opportunity to compete in a Paris-Dakar-style rally raid in the best possible conditions, with assistance by a professional, experienced team of organisers and the chance to ride more than 6,500 kilometres of roads and desert trails from Paris, France, all the way to Dakar, Senegal. This year, 165 participants in teams of at least three people - of which 68 were on motorcycles and 46 in 4x4 vehicles - crossed France, Spain, Morocco and Mauritania, before arriving on the banks of the famous Lac Rose, close to Dakar.
Riding a classic converted 860cc BMW R 65 GS, and a new G 650 Xchallenge with Touratech Dakar kit, Jos Bourgondien and Harrie Jacobi rode close to 7,000 kilometres across tarmac, gravel, dirt, sand and rocks to reach the finish line and claim this important victory for the Bert Duursma team.
Speaking from his dealership in Apeldoorn, Holland, an emotional Bert Duursma was full of praise for his riders: "This is really like a dream come true for me and I only wish that I had been out in Africa to see the boys over the finish line! We’ve been active in the rally business for seven years but this has been without a doubt the proudest moment so far for me. We also had another team, with Pierre Karsmakers on a BMW G 650 Xchallenge, but he was unfortunately hit by another rider who came over a dune and collided with him, breaking his foot. It’s a shame for Pierre, as he finished in third place last year. I’m very proud of Jos and Harrie for the commitment and excellent teamwork they put in to win this tough rally - it’s the best result we could have hoped for and once the dust has settled, we’ll start thinking about next year!"
This was a view shared by Jos Bourgondien, who rode the same R 65 GS in last year’s Heroes Legend, but hadn’t expected things to go so well in 2008: "As soon as the aeroplane landed back in Holland, we had a little party with Bert and we’re already talking about 2009 and possibly considering using the new F 800 GS. I had such a great time this year, and didn’t expect to be in front from the beginning. Harrie was an excellent team-mate, even though I hadn’t met him until not long before the start of the rally. Our original goal was just to get to the finish in Dakar, but we supported and pushed each other, which took our efforts to an even higher level. It wasn’t all ’plain sailing’ though - my drive shaft broke twice and my frame also broke during a special stage, which made things difficult. That said, we were always able to repair the bike and get it home, without losing our advantage."
Harrie Jacobi was also delighted at the ’BDM BMW’ team’s victory in the rally. The police officer and professional riding instructor has competed several times on BMW bikes with Bert Duursma in the Alto Turia Rally in Spain, but this was his first taste of the real Africa - and of the G 650 Xchallenge.
"Participating in this African rally was an amazing experience," said Harrie. "Morocco was flat apart from the Atlas Mountains, but Mauritania was beautiful and challenging, as was Senegal. It was a tough rally though, and much harder than last year, according to many of the participants who had returned in 2008. Some of the top guys - who had done the Dakar Rally in the past - said that at least four or five stages were the same as actual Dakar stages, so that would have made it really difficult for beginners. The Touratech-kitted G 650 Xchallenge was amazing though, not only in terms of its ability as a rally bike, but also its fuel economy. It was only drinking one litre of petrol every 21 kilometres, which is incredible. We’re proud of the victory and I’m looking forwards to not only sleeping in my own bed, but also returning to work to see how my colleagues will react!"
For more information and pictures from the 2008 rally, please visit www.lalegendedesheros.com or www.heroeslegend.com