If some driver can be synonymous to the Dakar Rally, the toughest race on the world, it's definitely Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel. The man who participated at Dakar 30 times and scored amazing 13 overall victories is a real living legend of the race and can simply be named Monsieur Dakar.
Monsieur Dakar Stephane Peterhansel
Six Dakar Rally wins in 10 races with motorcycles
Stéphane Peterhansel (born on August 6, 1965) debuted in Paris–Dakar Rally in 1988 in motorcycle category with Yamaha and managed to finish the race in his first attempt, an outstanding result for every Dakar rookie. He reached top podium spot for the first time in 1991. Peterhansel remained with Yamaha during his entire career, until 1998, when he scored his sixth Dakar victory.
Peterhansel scored first Dakar victory in 1991 driving Yamaha
Partnership with Jean-Paul Cottret since 1999
He moved to car category in 1999 and paired with co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret, who stayed with him until today. Stéphane Peterhansel's first Dakar car was Nissan and he finished 7th in the classification. The next year, Peterhansel surprised with a second place finish driving a Mega prototype for his own team. In 2001 and 2002, Peterhansel was a part of Nissan Team Dessoude and in 2003 he joined Mitsubishi's factory team, which was dominant at the time.
At 2000 Dakar race, in his second attempt in car category, Peterhansel finished second with Mega prototype
Three Dakar victories with Mitsubishi
Mitsubishi took seven consecutive Dakar victories from 2001 to 2007. Stéphane Peterhansel was a part of that winning streak with three wins in 2004, 2005 and 2007. When he wasn't winning he was always near the top, finishing 3rd in 2003 and 4th in 2006.
In 2008, Dakar Rally was cancelled and Central Europe Rally was held instead. Peterhansel finished second, behind Carlos Sainz. In the following years Peterhansel and Sainz became big rivals but in the end, they both joined Peugeot Sport in 2015.
Peterhansel was a Mitsubishi factory driver from 2003 to 2009 and scored three wins driving Pajero
Peterhansel had the last race with Mitsubishi in 2009
In 2009 Dakar Rally was moved to South America and it was Peterhansel's last event with Mitsubishi. In 2010 he joined BMW X-Raid Team, which prepared BMW X3 CC cars. It was the time of Volkswagen Motorsport's domination and Peterhansel scored two fourth places in 2010 and 2011.
Mini All4 Racing as a new winning machine
For promotional reasons, German X-Raid team, which operated BMW's Dakar programme, Peterhansel switched to Mini Countryman in 2012 and created the Mini All4 Racing, although it was just an evolution of the previous BMW racing car. In his new car, Peterhansel won the race in 2012 and 2013, increasing his total number of Dakar victories to eleven.
In 2012 Peterhansel scored his first Dakar victory with X-Raid's Mini
Controversial team order at 2014 Dakar Rally
He was very close to his 12th win in 2014, but a controversial team order slowed him down on the last stage and gave the victory to his teammate Nani Roma. After that, Peterhansel left X-Raid and joined Peugeot Sport. In 2015, the French manufacturer returned to Dakar after 25 years of absence and formed the strong team with three Dakar winners – Peterhansel, Sainz and Cyril Despres.
Two wins in a row with Peugeot
The debuting event was tough for Peugeot 2008 DKR and after many technical issues, Peterhansel was the best of three drivers with 11th place finish in the 2015 edition. For Dakar 2016, Peugeot's Dream Team was back with an improved car and one more star driver - Sebastien Loeb. Peterhansel was the best of four Peugeot's drivers and took his 12th Dakar trophy.
The Peugeot 3008 DKR was introduced for the 2017 Dakar Rally. The same four drivers competed for the Team Peugeot Total. After twelve stages, Peterhansel was the fastest, scoring his 13th victory with five-minute gap ahead of Sebastien Loeb.
Stephane Peterhansel's 13th victory
2018 - fourth place in the last attempt with Peugeot
For the 2018 Dakar Rally, Team Peugeot Total returned to South America with the same four drivers. All four faced big problems but Carlos Sainz was the one with fewer difficulties and he won the rally. Stephane Peterhansel was in the lead until Stage 6, ending in the fourth place after fourteen stages. It was the last Dakar Rally attempt for Peugeot before their withdrawal from the event.
In January 2019, Peterhansel was a member of the X-Raid Mini JCW Team, together with Carlos Sainz and Cyril Despres. He was running fourth overall until Stage 8 when his co-driver David Castera suffered an injury in a heavy landing and they had to retire from race.
Video : Onboard with Stephane in Peugeot 2008 DKR16