In 1979, Claude and Bernard Marreau created a sensation at the Paris-Dakar rally. In their modest little Renault 4, the two brothers used all of their experience to rub shoulders with the larger Range Rovers, Toyotas and Volkswagens.
Fifth overall and second in the cars class, the "desert foxes" returned the following year with the support of the brand. An R5 Alpine engine was fitted on the 4L and despite seven punctures on the same leg, they nonetheless managed to finish on the final podium again!
With the support of Renault, the two brothers entered the race again, this time with a car that they had designed: a Renault 20 prototype fitted with a turbo engine taken from the Renault 18, four-wheel drive and a rear axle lifted from a Trafic!
Claude’s driving skills, coupled with Bernard’s navigation expertise, not forgetting the qualities of the car itself, hit the mark up against the big favourites in the Ladas and Mercedes.
After coming close to victory in 1981, they continued to work on their 1.6-litre, 133hp engine as they bounced back the following year to win the rally, ending up more than an hour ahead of their nearest challengers!
Later on, the Marreau brothers competed again at the rally in a four-wheel drive Renault 18 V6. Although they didn’t win in the R18, their success would be echoed by the two wins of the Schlesser-Renault buggy at the turn of the century.