He won his first Dakar in 1991. At the time, the prestigious rally-raid still justified its name because it linked, as in the beginning, Paris to Dakar in Senegal. Since then, after a ten-year jaunt in South America, the race is now held in Saudi Arabia. But despite these changes of continent and types of terrain, this Friday, thirty years later, the man nicknamed “Monsieur Dakar” could win the race for the 14th time when it arrives on the shores of the Red Sea. . On the eve of the last kilometers and the final special leading to Jeddah, the French Stéphane Peterhansel and his Mini are 15’05 ” ahead of his most serious rival, the Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota), who has this Thursday won his fifth stage victory.
Not enough, however, to sufficiently distance the legend of the race who finished second less than two minutes from him: “We had a puncture in the first part, says the“ Mini ”driver. Then we passed Nasser, so it went well. But on the last part there were dunes with big rocks behind. We hit a pretty hard blow and we punctured again, but we were afraid there might be more. Apparently it’s okay, the car resisted and we lost a few minutes, but three times nothing. The whole day has been stressful… It was not easy. “
The twelfth and last stage of the Dakar will lead the survivors to Jeddah. In a race like this, anything is possible, even in the last few meters, and Stéphane Peterhansel has not yet won the race. He knows it better than anyone. But it is difficult to see Al-Attiyah making up for his delay of a quarter of an hour on the 225 km of the last special. Behind this duo, the Spaniard Carlos Sainz, relegated to more than an hour, is almost assured of third place.
Like Hubert Auriol who died last Sunday, Stéphane Peterhansel won the Dakar both on a motorcycle and in a car. From 1991 to 1998, he triumphed six times in two-wheelers on Yamaha, then seven times in cars since 2004 (on Mitsubishi, then Mini). His last success dates back to 2017 in South America.