In the bivouac bays, he was the man in the cap, the one also nicknamed “The cowboy of Montrouge”, his birthplace. René Metge, three-time winner of the Dakar, died this Wednesday at the age of 82. In the cream of rally raids then at the height of his glory, he triumphed with Range Rover in 1981, then in 1984 and 1986 with Porsche at the wheel of a 959. A white and blue car in the colors of a tobacco company that has remained iconic in the history of this event. The general public also knew Metge as co-pilot of Johnny Hallyday who came to try his luck in the desert in 2002. And those close to him finally knew how to appreciate a man who had adventure in his blood, talkative with a happy-go-lucky side that never left him.
René Metge's life as a pilot is closely linked to that of the Dakar, of which he was even the big boss after the death in 1986 of Thierry Sabine during the event in a helicopter accident. An organizer's outfit (in 1987 and 1988) which pleased her since this experience had pushed her to set up the Harricana, a snowmobile raid in the great outdoors of Canada in 1990. Two years later he allowed Paris -Moscow-Beijing was born inspired by André Citroën's yellow cruise linking Beirut to Beijing in memory of the Silk Road, at the beginning of the 1930s. Also a team boss, he ended up becoming a sports director of the Africa Eco Race, the cousin of the Dakar that remained in Africa while the legendary rally-raid took refuge in South America in 2009.
But like many drivers of his generation, Coluche's brother-in-law and friend who became boss of a famous Autorama dealership in Montrouge (Land Rover and Rover) was also a jack-of-all-trades in motor sports who counted six participations in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1977, 1979, 1982, 1984, 1986 and 1987), notably with Porsche. He finished seventh in his penultimate participation, his best result. It was 14 years after his first breakthrough behind the wheel when he won the R12 Gordini Cup.