New territory for the Dakar
Luc Alphand counts amongst the favourites on the Dakar's 30th edition, which takes place from 3rd to 17th January: a win in 2006 and three consecutive podiums appear on the former skiing champions' record.
The Mitsubishi Repsol-Valeo Team
of which he is part arrived in Buenos Aires last week and preparations have discreetly been under way since then. Every day, following an individual physical training programme, the crews climb aboard their cars, drive around a local track, and work on their set- ups.
The diesel-powered Lancers still smell like new, and every turn of a screwdriver is hopefully a turn in the right direction in order to take on their traditional rivals since 1994: the Volkswagen effort and its four Touareg 2s...
"Lucho" holds a slight advantage on his fellow raiders however, having won the Por las Pampas rally twice. Although the Dakar route is different from those upon which he took his victories, the Frenchman nonetheless favourably considers the chances of adding a new win to his record.
"It would be pretentious to say that I know the terrain," Alphand said.
"However, I like the nature of this sport: adapt and anticipate."