Stephane Peterhansel
Stephane Peterhansel Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Stephane Peterhansel, the most successful competitor in the history of cross country rallying, will take his place in a star-studded line-up for the 29th edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

Driving an X-raid Mini John Cooper Works buggy the Frenchman, who has won the event five times as a driver and once as a rider, will be partnered by his wife, Andrea, who has previously finished the rally on two and four wheels and returns as a navigator for the first time.

They are among 119 competitors from 34 countries in the official entry list issued today by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), the rally organisers, who are now busily preparing for the start on Saturday at Yas Marina Circuit, the event’s official HQ.

Around 80 cars, buggies, bikes and quads will set off for five desert stages across the giant dunes and sabka plains of the Al Dafrah Region.

Peterhansel, who won the Desert Challenge bikes title in 1996 and secured the last of his five cars victories in 2011, is among 39 drivers contesting the second round of the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars and buggies.

“Stephane and Andrea are great friends of the Desert Challenge and we’re very happy to welcome them back,” said ATCUAE president Mohammad Bin Sulayem, the FIA vice-president for Sport. “They’re both fantastic competitors and it will be interesting to see how they complete as a team against some of the best driver/co-driver partnerships in the world.”