Cyril Despres insists he is calm about how his Peugeot 3008DKR will fare in the sand dunes that will play a major part in the early part of the Dakar Rally, despite not having that much experience of those kind of conditions.
The five-time winner of the rally – all on KTM bikes between 2005 and 2013 – made the switch to cars and to Peugeot in 2015, and finished third in the event twelve months ago behind team-mates Stephane Peterhansel and Sebastien Loeb, taking two stage wins along the way.
The Frenchman is already focused on the individual stages of the 9000-kilometre long event, and he feels they will be a ‘really complex mix’ of stages across the fourteen planned days behind the wheel.
“I’m already just concentrating on the terrain and the difficulty of each leg,” said Despres. “The first stages, in Peru, will take place in the sand. We’re not used to spending so much time in the dunes, but I’m quite calm about it as our car works well when it comes to negotiating them.
“It will be very hot at the beginning ad then very quick, with narrower mountain stages at high altitude. And then there will be the stages like Belén and Fiambala, which you always go into with a slight edge of fear…
“There’s altitude, shifting sands, and waypoints that are never easy to find, which make navigation very complicated. This year’s Dakar will be a really complex mix!”