Charity rally raid organiser Jean-Jacques Rey passes

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Credit: 4L Trophy

Jean-Jacques Rey, founder of the Désertours travel agency and the mastermind behind rallies like the 4L Trophy and Trophée Roses des Sables, passed away Wednesday at the age of 79.

A motorcycle enthusiast, he got into rally raids when he was 25 years old after competing mainly in enduro. He attempted races such as the Tunisia Rally and the Rallye des Pharaons before entering the 1986 Paris–Dakar Rally in a Mitsubishi Pajero. He ran the Dakar three more times after that.

Inspired by his efforts, he and Désertours, which he opened in 1986, organised the Biarritz–Dakar in 1990 that ran from France through Morocco before finishing Senegal.

In 1997, Rey launched the 4L Trophy. Intended for drivers under the age of thirty, the rally pits them in Renault 4 cars through Morocco with school supplies that are then donated to schoolchildren in the country. After only four teams entered the inaugural race, the rally now sees nearly 1,500 entries each year while 1,150 crews raced the most recent edition in February. Rey’s daughter Géraldine currently oversees the event.

Rey also created the Trophée Roses des Sables, an all-women’s rally raid in Morocco that began in 2001. The 2024 edition will take place on 15–27 October.

“It is with deep sadness that we say goodbye to Jean-Jacques Rey, father of the legendary 4L Trophy,” reads a statement from the race. “His love for the desert, his passion for rally raid, and his adventurous spirit shaped this incredible experience, making him more than just a creator but a true icon for all ‘Trophistes’.

“With his charisma and contagious energy, Jean-Jacques managed to create an event that touched thousands of lives, offering young people an unforgettable adventure filled with solidarity and self-transcendence. For all your dedication, THANK YOU.

“Today, we honour his memory and legacy that will continue to shine through every kilometre traveled during the 4L Trophy.

“Rest in peace Jean-Jacques and happy trails.”

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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