Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel will be bidding to become only the second competitor in the 25-year history of the Dakar Rally to win the event on a motorcycle and in a car, when the African classic gets underway in Marseilles on New Year's Day.
Peterhansel made the switch from a successful professional career as a motorcyclist in 1999, after winning the Dakar Rally no less than six times with the Yamaha factory team.
His ambition is to fulfil a goal of winning the event for Mitsubishi and to follow in the footsteps of fellow countryman Hubert Auriol, who won the Dakar on two occasions for the BMW motorcycle team and then for Mitsubishi in 1992.
Peterhansel made his debut in motorcyling back in 1980 and his first success on the world's most famous endurance rally came 11 years later. He repeated that success with two further successive victories in 1992 and 1993.
'Peter' was victorious again on the 1995 Granada-Dakar Rally and went on to win the 1997 Dakar-Agadez-Dakar and the 1998 Paris-Granada-Dakar, before making the switch to four-wheel competition.
Peterhansel quickly adapted to the different techniques required to be competitive in a car and he followed an excellent seventh place in a Mitsubishi Pajero in the 1999 Granada-Dakar with second overall in a Mitsubishi-engined Mega Special in the arduous 2002 Paris-Dakar-Cairo Rally.
After winning the T1 Marathon category in 2001, the 37-year-old made the switch to T2 competition and then joined the Mitsubishi team this season, prior to winning the Rally of Tunisia for his new team.
Peterhansel debuted the new Super Production class Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution in winning style in November's UAE Desert Challenge, across the sands of the United Arab Emirates.
Along with co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret, the Frenchman hopes that he can fulfil his sole-surviving ambition on the Dakar, when the capacity entry of 440 cars, trucks and bikes head across the deserts of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt and on to a finish at Sharm El Sheikh in January.Published 17 December 2002