In all of motorsports, the Dakar Rally can only be described as epic.  To finish once is an incredible achievement but what do you call someone who’s conquered it many times?  Which word best describes the man who’s won it eleven times?  The only word that springs to mind is ‘legend’ and fifty year-old Frenchman, Stéphane Peterhansel certainly own that adjective.  He’s won the Dakar Rally six times on a bike, five times in a car and aims to win again in 2014.

Stéphane Peterhansel was born in Vesoul, France on 16th June 1963.  According to Jennifer Rails’ article for RiderPlanet USA, he got his first motorcycle at the age of eight, but developed a fascination with skateboarding.  He didn’t get back into bikes until his teen years and kicked off his career as a rider, winning the Championship of France Enduro at eighteen.  His first Dakar was in 1988.  Peterhansel took top honors for Yamaha and stayed with that manufacturer right up until switching to cars.  Victory on four-wheels finally came for him in 2004 with Mitsubishi with co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret.  Indeed, his first three titles for racing by car were for Mitsubishi but they pulled out of the Dakar Rally completely in 2009.  That was when he joined the Monster Energy X-raid Team racing with BMW’s in 2010 and 2011, but they couldn’t muster a better finish than fourth place.  In 2012 X-raid started using Mini All4 Racing cars and thus began an era of almost total domination.

Riders often say that “with age comes a cage” but Peterhansel has proven himself time and time again to be the best of the best.  The next Dakar Rally kicks off on January 5th 2014 in Rosario, Argentina and will end on January 18th in Valparaíso, Chile.  Competitors will have covered 9,374km/5,825mi over the course of thirteen days of hard racing.  We’ll see if the man known as “Mr. Dakar” will take top honors for the twelfth time or if another team will put their names in the history books.

“This year, the regulations once again won’t make it easy for us to prevail against the fast buggies. But as it was the case in the past years, we just will have to deliver on a consistent level and without encountering any problems. Then, we will have a good chance of making it once again.” – Stéphane Peterhansel (X-raid)

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