Wheels24

Former ski jumper takes on Dakar

2011-12-30 12:47

Berlin, Germany - Olympic medalist Adam Malysz will trade in his skis for a 4x4 as he prepares to take on the 2012 Dakar Rally.

The former ski jump star is more accustomed to flying through the air on snow swept slopes but will have to contend with an arduous 8373km trek, along with partner Rafal Michal, through three South American countries.

Malysz said: "I hope above all that I reach the finishing line. In the air I was always alone and here I have to work together with someone."

The duo behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Pajero are not expected to be a serious contender even though serial winner Volkswagen have pulled out of the traditional race.

Malysz, even without driving a single kilometre of the often dangerous terrain, has already realized what it means to take part.

"Everybody who reaches the end of the Dakar is a winner," he said.

In 2012 the Dakar will be held in South America for the fourth time, having moved to the continent after the 2008 rally was called off for security reasons, with the route taking drivers through Argentina, Chile and Peru.

Volkswagen, after three successive victories with Race Touareg, have pulled out to focus on their world rally championship premiere with the Polo.

'I'M STARTING FROM ZERO'


Germany's X-raid team is considered a big favourite and will have eight cars, five Minis and three BMW X3s, plus Stephane Peterhansel, one of the most successful Dakar drivers with nine victories.

Peterhansel, who has won six times on motorbike and three times behind the wheel of a 4x4, is accompanied by Jean Paul Cottret.

Nasser Al-Attiyah, who in January 2011 clinched victory to seal Volkswagen's hat-trick, is out to defend his title, this time in a Hummer after a late deal to drive for the US Robby Gordon team.

Al-Attiyah said: "As far as the car is concerned I am starting from zero."

To race the Dakar rally, Al-Attiyah has decided to miss the first leg of the world rally championship in Monte Carlo with his new Citroen team a week after the Dakar.

Al-Attiyah said: "The thought of not doing the Dakar almost made me sick but things eventually turned around. It's fantastic because it's a new challenge for me and I'm proud of being able to represent Qatar."

The Dakar rally comprises of 171 cars, 185 motorbikes, 76 trucks and 33 quad bikes taking part in five stages in Argentina, five in Chile and four in Peru.

DPA