Ecurie Frères d’Armes, a French project dedicated to fielding old military vehicles for combat veterans in rallies, will run their second Dakar Classic in 2025.
The team was founded by Emmanuel Rivière, a French Army captain who raced historic cross-country rallies like the Rallye des Pionniers in restored military cars, and his wife Sandra. They made their Dakar Classic début in 2023 with Mickaël Ranchin and Philippe Robert sharing a 1990 Peugeot P4, the light utility vehicle of choice by the French military for over four decades. Ranchin and Robert finished forty-second overall and seventeenth among H1-spec vehicles.
In 2015, Ranchin was serving as a paratrooper commando in the French-led Operation Barkhane in Mali when his vehicle was hit by an anti-tank mine, resulting in eighteen months hospitalisation and severe leg injuries though he was able to keep the limb. Robert, on the other hand, lost his leg in a motorcycle accident. Both befriended each other while training for military athletic events like the Invictus Games before tackling off-roading together.
The Rivières also entered the 2023 Classic in a 1983 ALM ACMAT TPK military truck, finishing seventieth in the general ranking and fourth among H0T trucks. Their truck was a replica of another ACMAT ran the 1981 Paris–Dakar Rally with members of the civil defence and training division. Both the Peugeot and ACMAT were still being used by the French Army until recently.
“There are always people from the military, which is a large family, who come to the aid of their comrades, those who have paid the price in blood,” explained Ranchin. “[Emmanuel] was looking for resilient profiles whose injuries do not raise questions when it comes to spending two weeks on the Dakar. […]
“The goal of this commitment is to push our limits but also to convey a message of resilience through determination, the importance of never giving up, and above all, the ability to rely on our brothers in arms, cohesion, and unity in the face of adversity. All these military values that bring us together. With the ambition to return one day to the modern Dakar to go even further, faster.”
Besides drivers, much of the team’s personnel are also veterans of the French military, many of whom suffered injuries during their service. A similar concept was undertaken by the Anglo-American Race2Recovery that completed the 2013 and 2014 Dakar Rallies, while a Ukrainian counterpart SKARLAT-XTRM Team competed in the Spanish Cross-Country Rally Championship in October.
Unlike the main Dakar Rally, the Dakar Classic is a navigation-based event for vehicles built before 1999.