There are brands that you would never imagine on the starting line of a rally-raid: brands like Rolls Royce, Vespa and Porsche. And yet, in the past all three have participated in what was once known as the Paris-Dakar. But if the participation of Rolls Royce and Vespa can be filed away as a touch of extravagance, Porsche turned up for the Dakar with the intention of winning. And on two occasions that goal was achieved.
Winning in the 1984 Paris-Alger-Dakar it was Frenchman René Metge in his Porsche 953.
Two years later, on the other hand, Porsche took a one-two finish: Metge first and Jacky Ickx second, both driving 959s.
On this second occasion the braking system of the three German cars (the third one driven by Roland Kussmaul finished in sixth place) was made by Brembo.
At the time the Porsches were factory fitted with Brembo brakes: the relationship as supplier had begun in 1982 with the 4-piece, 4-piston aluminium calipers (weighing 3.4 kg each) for the 930 built following Porsche's custom design.
Two years later Brembo designed the 2-piece, 4-piston calipers (2,8 kg) for the 951.
In those days the Dakar participants relied on factory braking systems.
Although they were high performance, Brembo brakes had not been conceived for a demanding race like the African marathon. The main problem that Porsche pointed out was the parking brake, which was a drum inside the rear brake disc housing (in the automotive field this is called "Drum in Hat"): a critical solution in a competition like the Dakar where the drum brake collected a lot of sand, risking malfunctions. To replace the parking brake, Porsche turned to Brembo: the result was the creation of a supplementary mechanical caliper in aluminium. It was a custom-made product for Porsche and it was an extremely limited edition but it created absolutely no problems during the entire rally-raid, contributing decisively to the domination of the Stuttgart-based manufacturer in the 1986 edition.
This supplementary caliper, which gripped the rear brake disc, was characterised by the presence of the automatic pad wear recovery device (transplanted from a brake developed for Honda motorcycles), since on the Paris-Dakar cars the parking brake was also used as a dynamic brake (to control sliding, etc.) and therefore the travel consistency of the parking brake lever in the passenger compartment was an essential condition.