The Dakar began the third leg of its illustrious history in the Middle East this January as part of a five-year deal with Saudi Arabia, ending a 11-year stint in South America that began in 2009 following the cancellation of the 2008 Africa event.
The move has received widespread praise from crews across all categories, with competitors hailing the navigational challenge and the variety of terrain offered by the Saudi landscape.
Peterhansel, who has been present for all three phases in the Dakar’s history, says the ongoing 2020 event in Saudi Arabia reminds him of the days the cross-country rally followed its original Paris-Dakar route.
“For sure it’s a little bit different than before because now we have technology like tracking system and everything,” the X-raid Mini driver told Motorsport.com. “But if we speak just concerning the stage and the landscape, for sure it’s a little bit more like in Africa.
“Still a little bit shorter because [on Friday] it was the longest stage but it was only 430km. I remember doing in Africa, first [time in] cars, nine hours of stage.
“But I think that now the speed is different and before we started for long, long stage, seven, eight, nine hours, we started little bit slowly to manage the distance.
“Now if it’s 300 or 500[km], it’s full throttle, like a sprint. We are always 100 percent. So it’s a little bit different but for sure, it’s little bit more like before. The spirit of Africa, for sure.”