Rallying: Peterhansel looks for hat-trick in the desert

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Peterhansel started his Dakar career on bikes, winning six times, before switching to cars. He won the last two events and is favourite to add a third, which would give Mitsubishi six consecutive wins.

"I have been involved for over 15 years," he said. "The sport is my life and I get a buzz out of being a champion. It is always tough to win, but I am passionate about my sport and love the competition and trying to do the best I can.

"Jean-Paul Cottret [co-driver] and I are quietly confident. We have a good track record together on the Dakar and will be well prepared. It will not be easy by any means, but we are both well motivated and looking forward to the start."

Peterhansel's run of success on four wheels brought to an end team-mate Hiroshi Masuoka's winning streak, and the Japanese driver wants his title back.

Masuoka has won twice and he is confident his new Mitsubishi will give him the chance to add a third. "The new car is very strong and fast and I think it is the best of its kind in the world," he said. Now I feel that I can win for the third time."

In the bike category, Cyril Despres is the defending champion while Britain's Patsy Quick, from East Sussex, mounts another challenge for fastest female honours. Simon Pavey on his BMW offers Britain's best hope of success.

There are 25 UK-registered competitors in all, eight in cars, 14 bikers and three lorry entrants. Two British diplomats - including the Prime Minister's adviser Charles Heatly on a KTM - are taking part, as well as the actor Charley Boorman, who navigated the planet with Ewan McGregor. The model Jodie Kidd could have added some glamour to the event, but was a late withdrawal.