26 Nov 2021
WRONG TRACK! The 1990 Paris-Dakar edition was a real triumph for Cagiva, but in an 800 km long leg, starting from N’ Guigmi and arriving in Agadez, the organisation had put the start flags on the wrong track: the first 30 drivers left and to the track to the right, while Orioli, who had studied the military maps, knew they would have had to go left. Nevertheless, he followed them and after only 20 km they all stopped. Something was wrong. They went back, driving 10 km out of track yet they realised they still were not going in the right direction. In the meantime Orioli had understood where he should be heading. In order to avoid being followed by the others, he stopped, pretending a break-down, while he checked how much petrol he had left: the first refuelling would be 420 km from the start; they had already done at least 25 km and he had a maximum autonomy of 460 km. The others returned to the starting point and started again from there, while Edi proceeded from that point until he reached the right track, carved in the sand. Incredulous, he noticed that it was already marked by the tracks of other bikes: the private riders had already gone ahead. He then continued at maximum speed to the refuelling point. From there, there were still 400 km before the finish line. That day Orioli covered 850 km in the Tenéré desert. He arrived at half past five in the evening, with the sun in his eyes. He found Azzalin welcoming and embracing him, telling him that he had been outright heroic, comparing his achievement with that of Fausto Coppi on the Stelvio pass. The team knew everything. Edi hadn’t missed a single point of the road book, while for the others it was a massacre: Peterhansel got lost in the dunes, Neveu, chasing Orioli, broke the gearbox, Mas got bogged down and arrived 45 minutes later, Franco Picco and Ciro stayed in the background, panicking because they hadn’t seen Edi, who instead gained an hour and a half on all the others. That year the Lucky Explorer team took its first victory with one of its official riders and the Schiranna brand issued the new Elefant 900 IE in a limited edition of 999 pieces, with a silver key ring signed by Edi Orioli in person. Edi had become the symbol of the brand, but at the time he did not realise it.