Stéphane Peterhansel is nicknamed “Mr. Dakar” thanks to his record fourteen overall victories at the Dakar Rally, including six on two wheels and eight on four. While he has not raced a major rally raid on a bike since the 1990s, he will return to his roots at the Morocco Desert Challenge on 23–30 April.
Technically speaking, Peterhansel will not be competing in the MDC. Rather, he will ride a Yamaha Ténéré 700 as part of the Ténéré Spirit Experience, a non-competitive adventure category intended for Ténéré owners hoping to take part in rally raids with factory assistance from Yamaha. As riders in the category are not racing against each other, they will follow a different route from the main rally.
The TSE is overseen by his wife Andréa Peterhansel, who serves as co-general manager and spokeswoman for the programme, and Marc Bourgeois. The latter, former manager of Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, and his company MBSM is providing gear for TSE participants.
Yamaha shuttered its bike rally raid programme after 2022, but formed the TSE the following year to promote the Ténéré line of rally bikes; the Ténéré is named after a desert in the Sahara that the Dakar Rally ran through in its original Paris to Dakar format. The TSE will also be present at the Hellas Rally in Greece on 21–28 May, followed by the Transanatolia in Turkey on 2–9 September, and the Tunisia Desert Challenge on 20–29 October.
Peterhansel is closely connected to Yamaha, having been a factory rider for the brand for all ten of his Dakar Rally entries on bikes from 1988 to 1998. He won the overall from 1991 to 1993, 1995, and in 1997 and 1998. He switched to cars in 1999, from which he claimed eight more victories (2004, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2021).
Since 2022, the Frenchman runs rally raids with Audi, though both of his Dakar runs for the German make ended in retirement. He won the 2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in Audi’s RS Q e-tron, marking the first time an electric car won the overall in an international rally raid.