Sainct hoping for fourth Dakar win

The three-times Dakar Rally motorcyclist winner Richard Sainct has his sights set on another victory when the world's most famous endurance race reaches the capital of Senegal on the west coast of Africa on 18 January.

The Frenchman goes into today's opening stage from Clermont-Ferrand to Narbonne on his Gauloises KTM with one thing on his mind. "After winning even once, finishing anything less than first is a disappointment," Sainct said, "but winning a Dakar is always a very emotional experience, a huge challenge and that is what keeps me motivated. I won't be starting to finish second."

However, with this year's event billed as the most difficult for 19 years, Sainct knows he will not have things easy. "The route looks long, varied and technical and that suits me just fine," he added. "My biggest rival is myself. My biggest fears are of crashing, running into a mechanical problem or getting lost.

"After that there are 11 KTM factory riders, all of whom could win. Of those I'd say that in addition to Fabrizio Meoni, Nani Roma and Cyril Despres are the biggest threats."

The desert dunes and searing temperatures also await the former world rally champion Colin McRae as the Scot takes on a new challenge with his Dakar Rally debut. McRae's previous experience of Africa is limited to the Kenyan Safari Rally but he will have 11,052km (6,867 miles) and 18 days to see a different side to the continent in his Nissan 4x4 pick-up.

"I'm excited and probably a wee bit daunted," the 1995 world champion said. "What I know about Dakar is what I've seen on television or been told.

"It's very much a journey into the unknown. But that's what makes it so exciting. It's a similar feeling I had when I went into my first rally in 1985."

The bravest Briton, however, is Patsy Quick, who will be riding her KTM bike 12 months after the crash in last year's event which left her needing life-saving surgery for a ruptured spleen. The antique furniture shop owner from Sussex has raised £45,000 to take part again. "I knew in my heart of hearts that I wouldn't be happy until I went back and conquered the whole race," said the 37-year-old Quick, whose husband, Mike, will be her mechanic.

Some 411 entrants are set to start the 26th edition of the race, of which 200 are motorcycle riders and 146 are in cars. Seventeen former winners are competing. The rally, which in previous years has seen deaths from mines and ambushes by bandits, heads into Morocco from southern Spain on Sunday and crosses Mauritania, Mali and Burkina Faso before ending in Senegal.

INTO AFRICA THE DAKAR RALLY ROUTE

TODAY

Stage 1: Clermont-Ferrand to Narbonne 396km/246 miles

TOMORROW

Stage 2: Narbonne to Castellon 531km/330 miles

SATURDAY

Stage 3: Castellon to Tangiers 831km/516 miles

SUNDAY

Stage 4: Tangiers to Er Rachidia, Morocco 752km/467 miles

MONDAY 5 JANUARY

Stage 5: Er Rachidia to Ouarzazate, Morocco 575km/357 miles

TUESDAY 6 JANUARY

Stage 6: Ouarzazate to Tan-Tan, Morocco 803km/499 miles

WEDNESDAY 7 JANUARY

Stage 7: Tan-Tan to Atar, Mauritania 1,055km/656 miles

THURSDAY 8 JANUARY

Stage 8: Atar to Tidjikja, Mauritania 389km/242 miles

FRIDAY 9 JANUARY

Stage 9: Tidjikja to Nema, Mauritania 739km/459 miles

SATURDAY 10 JANUARY

Stage 10: Nema to Mopti, Mali 910km/565 miles

SUNDAY 11 JANUARY

Stage 11: Mopti to Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso 751km/467 miles

MONDAY 12 JANUARY

Rest day

TUESDAY 13 JANUARY

Stage 12: Bobo-Dioulasso to Bamako, Mali 666km/414 miles

WEDNESDAY 14 JANUARY

Stage 13: Bamako to Ayoun El Atrous, Mauritania 733km/455 miles

THURSDAY 15 JANUARY

Stage 14: Ayoun El Atrous to Tidjikja, Mauritania 513km/319 miles

FRIDAY 16 JANUARY

Stage 15: Tidjikja to Nouakchott, Mauritania 630km/391 miles

SATURDAY 17 JANUARY

Stage 16: Nouakchott to Dakar, Senegal 665km/413 miles

SUNDAY 18 JANUARY

Stage 17: Dakar to Dakar 113km/70 miles

TOTAL DISTANCE: 11,052km/6,867 miles

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
businessHow bosses are inventing unusual ways of making us work harder
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?