A very hard rally to win...
It is certainly the retirement which most affected the members of the bivouac: with seven Dakar victories to his name (five on motorbikes, two aboard cars), Stéphane Peterhansel pulling out of the event meant saying an early goodbye to his many
friends within the campsite.
Before leaving for his home in Switzerland, Peterhansel's state of mind was clear.
"It puts things in perspective," he said. "If we had won again we would have heard: 'he won again, it's easy!'"
"It's so complicated claiming victory," Peterhansel continued. "It's all a very complex puzzle which is unsuspected from the outside."
The Mitsubishi team took on this maiden South America-based rally with four brand new Lancers, three of which have retired, leaving only fourth-placed Nani Roma to defend the team's colours.
"We have the experience but with new components it changes everything," explained Peterhansel. "It also shows just how hard it is to win a Dakar, even with ten victories – seven consecutively - on Mitsubishi's list.
The Dakar remains a very selective competition."
The Frenchman hides his disappointment well, considering it as one of those occasional downturns which may occur at any rally: "When I win I'm happy, but I don't linger too long on that. Same thing when I lose."
"However, our retirement and those of Luc (Alphand) and Hiroshi (Masuoka) really piss me off for the team, which worked tremendously hard."
While the Dakar Rally sinuously moves towards its conclusion at Buenos Aires over the next week, Peterhansel will be skiing in the Swiss Alps and trying to think of something else... but surely following the progression of his teammate Nina Roma from afar.