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LM002 Paris Dakar - the STORY

It was made quite clear right from the start Ferruccio Lamborghini had absolutely no intention in taking any of his Raging Bull onto the race track, he didn't want to spend money on preparing a competition model, do note however some private teams used cars like the Islero and Miura on the track, but with no official factory support.

When Ferruccio had left the car company and after several owners stepped in it was time for a new, young approach … and under the Mimran reign we saw the first official attempt at using a Lamborghini as a race car … or a rally car to be more precise as in the mid-Eighties it was deemed the right time had come to enter the notorious Paris Dakar rally using the only model in the lineup that could finish … the powerful four-wheel drive LM002.

Work began on chassis number HLA12047 to convert this regular 455hp V12 Lamborghini into a rally specs edition pumping out over 600hp, an open race exhaust was installed and a lot of excess weight was removed from the standard LM002, the sound from this highly tuned competition engine must have been very brutal, almost animal like sound when flooring the gas pedal.

A full roll cage went in the stripped down interior, only two seats remained up front boasting multi point seat belts that would strap the occupants down nicely, the dashboard got scattered with special rally switches, timers and positioning equipment as required for the big rally … Paris Dakar.

Naturally the suspension was also upgraded to cope with the constant pounding of high-speed desert driving while the glass was replaced with lighter Plexiglas; the front side windows even featured small sliding part like on most race cars.

None other than rally legend Sandro Munari would be driving this factory prepared LM002 Rally edition … unfortunately it was never actually driven in a Paris Dakar Rally, she was entered in the Rally of the Pharaohs in 1987 (October 18-28) but didn't start the race after the sponsor had a deadly accident in an offshore powerboat.

The LM002 Rally re-appeared in the 1988 off-road rally in Greece, when Mario Mannucci was the driver with Sandro Munari as the co-pilot, sadly the Lamborghini didn't finish the rally, but it did manage to hold the third position at first. After this short life in competition it is believed the engine was replaced by a more 'standard' V-12 and the car was sold to a collector … however recent information mentions LM002 number HLA12047 is back to full factory rally specs … and still part of a Lamborghini collection.
So this factory original LM002 Rally didn't really make it into the Paris Dakar, but in 1988 a Raging Bull was entered … Swiss based World LM Racing Team entered a bright red LM002 in the grueling Paris Dakar competition, and while some sources state they had to retire the race, other sources list this car with starting number 519 did actually finish in 10th position in the Marathon category.

This red LM002 was driven by Concet and Kurzen, P.A. Burnier was the owner of the World LM Racing Team while Maregrande from the Lamborghini factory was appointed as the designated mechanic and none other than Sandra Munari was a technical advisor on this car … so while not an official factory entry into the Paris Dakar it still had some direct linkage to Sant'Agata.

Some specs on this 1988 LM002 Rallye (they called it Rallye instead of Rally): 5200cc V12 engine, 475hp, 3200kg in full rally load, 600 lite fuel tank with a fuel consumption of 68 Liter/100km … resulting in about 900km on a full tank while reaching speeds of up to 200km/h on the street … and an impressive 180km/h in the sand, with the special tires this LM002 was even able to reach speeds over 100km/h with a flat!

Another LM002 was prepared for the Paris Dakar rally by a private party, some sources state this was in 1989, other sources state 1996 … one this is certain however, this orange finished LM002 was once again factory build, finished in bright orange over black I saw it parked at the Belgian importer in the Nineties, apparently bought by Hubert Siegez in 1993 (who owned the dealership in the Gossetlaan in Groot Bijgaarden, Belgium at that time). The orange LM002 was still wearing its full Rally dress, it was later sold to a Japanese collector who according to the Lamborghini Registry, still drives it with the original open exhaust system today.

So we are looking at three different LM002 that have been linked to the famous Paris-Dakar rally … and the rally adventure wasn't over yet … in 1996 a heavily modified LM002 with chassis number HMA12046 was entered in the Prototype category, note that this specific LM002 was once owned by Mrs. Mimran .. back in the Eighties the Mimran family owned the entire Lamborghini factory, history is told Mrs. Mimran received the LM002 as a gift.

Famous race driver Andrea Barenghi bought the car from Mrs. Mimran in the mid Nineties and spend over a year preparing this LM002 for the toughest race in the world … the Dakar! Rumor has it Garage Burnier in Switzerland took on the work of converting this LM002, the engine was taken out of the car and received a custom made injection system, the factory standard catalyst were removed and both cooling and lubrication were modified and reinforced so the car would be able to withstand anything the Dakar desert would throw at it.

Front brakes were replaced by AP units and a massive 800 liter fuel tank was mounted to increase the action radius of this rather thirsty V12 unit with more than 600hp based on a Countach unit with 455hp normally … the added horsepower and the fact over 500kg was removed from the original LM002 resulted in some impressive performance figures. Do note that the original chassis of the LM002 turned out to be so structurally strong it wasn't even necessary to modify it for the race … very impressive to say the least.

So LM002 chassis number HLA12046 was officially entered into the 1996 Dakar race and received number 246, the Bull kept up with the competition very nicely, both on the flooded roads of Spain as on the African desert sand … unfortunately one oversight roared its ugly head.

The LM002 was no lightweight to begin with, and the massive Pirelli Scorpion tires didn't help keeping weight down either, hence a combination of high speed driving on bad roads and impressive jumps took their toll on the suspension. In a matter of days the team went through no less than 24 shock absorbers … and had to forfeit the race due to a lack of spare parts.

Afterward the car changed hands again, it was sold to Gildo Pallanco Pastor, owner of Venturi Automobiles, who wanted to turn this final LM002 Rally into a high performance fun car to enjoy on the roads around Monaco. Pastor had the car shipped to a Lamborghini specialist who had the entire engine rebuilt, starting with a standard Countach engine once again … but the project got cancelled at some time and the car was left abandoned … still mostly in its Dakar race specs.

Other information mentions HLA12046 was auctioned by Poulainlefur in Paris in 1998, at that time the car still had the Swiss title. In 2008 it appeared again on the radar when it was for sale at less than 30,000 Euro as it still required a lot of work to get back to full Rally specs, apparently the engine came with two ECU, one with a 7,500rpm max and another with a 7,800rpm redline … both releasing over 600hp from the V12. The owner did have a lot of work executed on the car but in the end still offered it for sale again … as a project car.


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Off-Road

LM002 Paris Dakar

January 1. 2012

Text © Mark Smeyers

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The original factory prepared Lamborghini LM002 Rally ... also known as the Paris Dakar edition.
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Rear view of the original LM002 Paris Dakar rally car prepared by Lamborghini.
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The factory original Lamborghini LM002 Paris Dakar in mid air.
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The factory prepared Lamborghini LM002 Paris Dakar interior with Sandro Munari.
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