Dakar Rally Legend Stéphane Peterhansel Returns to Bike Roots at Swank Rally di Sardegna

    (Swank Rally di Sardegna) – Veteran rally racer Stéphane Peterhansel, a six-time Dakar Rally champion on a motorcycle and three-time winner in a car, made a triumphant return to his two-wheeled roots at the recent Swank Rally di Sardegna. Piloting a Yamaha WRF450F, the 60-year-old French legend battled with Benjamin Melot and Alessandro Botturi throughout the five-leg event, ultimately finishing a strong third.

    Peterhansel, who had his four-wheeled rally machine sidelined for the foreseeable future, seized the early advantage by beating Vincenzo Savoca Corona for the first stage win by a mere two seconds. He maintained his lead before Melot matched his pace through the first three legs. However, the experienced Peterhansel proved he still had the skills to come out on top, pulling away in the final two stages to edge out Botturi by a mere seven seconds.

    “Peterhansel’s impressive Dakar pedigree including six motorcycle victories and three more in a car.”

    Botturi, a two-time bike winner of the Africa Eco Race that previously followed the Dakar’s original route, finished just 17 seconds behind Peterhansel. Both riders have a wealth of experience traversing the dunes and tracks from Europe to Senegal, with Peterhansel’s impressive Dakar pedigree including six motorcycle victories and three more in a car.

    The 2024 Swank Rally, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Sardegna Rally Race, featured a diverse field of bikes not typically eligible for traditional FIM competition. Peterhansel’s WRF450F competed against enduro and adventure machines with significantly more displacement, including many from Yamaha’s renowned Ténéré line.

    Other Familiar Faces at the Swank Rally di Sardegna

    Other familiar faces in the Swank Rally di Sardegna included:

    • Alessandro Zanichelli, who raced the Dakar on a Yamaha 600 in the 1980s
    • 2025 Dakar hopeful Romain Bouzigon

    The event, organized by Italian company Adventure Riding, is part of a series that also takes place in Tunisia in late February.

    Peterhansel’s Ongoing Passion for Motorsports

    Despite the setback of his four-wheeled rally car being out of commission, Peterhansel has remained active in the world of off-road racing. In 2023, he made his return to bikes when he entered the Morocco Desert Challenge in a non-competition category as part of the Ténéré Spirit Experience, a factory-backed programme for Ténéré 700 owners led by his wife, Andréa Peterhansel, who also competed in the Swank Rally and finished 19th.

    As Peterhansel approaches his sixties, his career remains in flux, but his passion for motorsports, particularly in the WEC 2024, WEC 2023, WEC calendar 2023, WEC calendar, and FIA WEC, continues to shine through. The veteran’s podium finish at the Swank Rally di Sardegna demonstrates that he still possesses the skills and determination that have made him one of the most successful rally racers of all time.

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