Peterhansel reveals language fears with new co-driver

Rachit Thukral

Dakar legend Peterhansel was due to take part in the 2020 edition of the event in one of the X-raid squad's Mini JCW Buggies with his wife Andrea, after the two won last year's FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies as a pair.

However, Andrea was forced to drop out of the rally at the last minute after medical tests revealed a problem with one of her arteries.

#300 Peugeot Sport Peugeot 3008 DKR: Jean-Paul Cottret

#300 Peugeot Sport Peugeot 3008 DKR: Jean-Paul Cottret Peugeot Sport

Peugeot Sport

Jean Paul Cottret, with whom he won all seven of his Dakar titles on four wheels, will drive the opening car as part of a new role with event organiser ASO.

Cottret’s job will be to review and suggest changes to the roadbook based on his vast experience as a navigator.

The Frenchman has been assigned this role by Castera following complaints from drivers about the roadbook in the Morocco Rally, an event organised by Castera’s own company ODC.

Cottret’s new role with ASO means he will not compete in Dakar for the first time since 2002. He finished fifth in last year’s event as Cyril Despres’ navigator at Peugeot, with Castera himself having partnered Peterhansel in 2019.

"After Morocco, when I saw the failures we had there, I realised that you have to have a very good person to open the track and we did not have it,” Castera told Motorsport.com.

"I asked him [Cottret] to come because he had other offers but if he entered the organisation, he was definitely leaving the competition. He hesitated a lot, but I insisted that he had to come to Saudi Arabia to tell me what he thought of the route.

He is someone who has an enormous experience to help me correct and write the roadbook. We have done something that was never done before. 

“We sent him a month ago to do the route for the first time and see how the navigation level we have prepared was. We made some corrections that were very positive".