Saturday, January 22

Stéphane Peterhansel before the Dakar 2022: “a challenge that is right for me”

Stéphane Peterhansel, defending champion and record holder for victories in the event (14 victories, including 6 on motorcycles), will be competing in the Dakar 2022 with an Audi hybrid buggy. A new challenge that he is eager to achieve as he entrusted to CNEWS.

Are you launching a new challenge with an Audi hybrid buggy, how are you feeling?

I am very impatient. Because it’s a project that has matured for over a year and a half now. And there we are at the start of the first race. We are therefore impatient. And then, at the same time, I wouldn’t say worried. But as we weren’t able to race, we’re really going to discover everything live, in real life. But I would say in any case: very impatient and very motivated because it is the challenge that is right for me.

This will be your 33e participation, how do you find the motivation?

I don’t want to say that I covered the question, but I won in all the different categories, with cars also with diesel engines, gasoline engines, two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive. And there, it is really an additional motivation to be part of such an ambitious project with Audi. So I feel happy to be a part of it. Motivated and impatient. These are the three words that I will remember about my feeling at the moment.

I’m rather at the end of my careerStephane Peterhansel

Not having tested the car in competition, is that a handicap?

Obviously, it’s more of a handicap for me because it’s the first year, I believe that since the start of my career, I haven’t done any car competition between two Dakar’s. Indeed, we did a lot of practice sessions in Spain, practice sessions in Morocco. But all that never replaces the competition and the reality of the race.

But on the other hand, since we joined this project, we have seen that all the people who are around, whether it is the management of engineering, mechanics, everyone has their heads in the handlebars for months and months, and we really did everything we could to be at the start of the Dakar 2022.

So it’s not bad will on anyone’s part. It’s really that everyone is fully and we really did not have the opportunity. It was planned. Small reliability problems delayed our participations until finally deciding to do no racing. I don’t mean to say it’s an advantage, but in any case, we couldn’t do otherwise and we will try to manage this situation as well as possible.

With this Audi hybrid, is it an opportunity to prepare for the Dakar of tomorrow?

It really is. We are at a technological turning point. In all Motorsport disciplines, everyone is trying to integrate hybridization, electricity, or even in a few years, perhaps hydrogen. And it’s true that I am rather at the end of my career. But to be able to participate in that and see what the future is going to be, it’s really super interesting. I discover another world, another way of working. We no longer have a heat engine and I am discovering all the possibilities that we can have thanks to an electric motor.

An electric motor, of course, which is coupled to a heat engine called Energy Converter, that is to say which provides energy. But in any case, the car is propelled and moves forward thanks to its electric motors. It is really something that I did not know and I am amazed by the possibilities of configuration. And I have to say I’m glad to see that before I quit.

Despite everything, will Mr. Dakar set off with the desire to win the fifteenth title?

Of course, I think that today, we are still very uncertain about our pure performance, the competition and the reliability over the length of a Dakar. But in the back of my mind, obviously, when I start Dakar, it’s always with the idea of ​​trying to win it.

I know it’s probably going to be complicated, but you never know if all the stars are aligned. Why not aim for a podium or a victory? But I think it’s going to be complicated. I believe year 2 of the Audi program will really be the year we have to win. This year, I think it’s complicated, but you can imagine it when you are a competitor, you are a competitor and when you have it in your blood the only thing you see is victory. I have to think about it, but it won’t be easy.

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