Organizers said Auriol had been battling a long-term illness and said he will always be remembered as an iconic face of the race, having taken part in the very first Dakar Rally in 1979.
Auriol went on to win the race three times, first on a motorbike in 1981. He repeated his success on two wheels in 1983 before switching to a car and winning in 1992.
During the race in 1987, Auriol famously fell out of contention after breaking both of his ankles during a crash in the penultimate stage, a moment written into the race’s folklore.
After his racing career ended, Auriol worked as the race director for 10 years.
President of motorsport’s governing body FIA, Jean Todt, led the tributes on social media.
“He was the first rider to win the race in both motorcycle (1981, 1983) and car (1992), before he led the event. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
This year’s Dakar Rally is currently ongoing and is being held in Saudi Arabia.
There are traditionally five major vehicle categories in the legendary race — cars, motorbikes, trucks, UTVs and quad bikes.