2006 DAKAR CHAMPION - LUC ALPHAND
Luc Alphand is a born winner. Behind that cheeky smile and infectious personality lies a burning desire to succeed in any form of sport. From an early age, young Lucho was always destined to be a winner.
"My father and I would go hunting together in the mountains when I was young," said Alphand, who learned his trade as a hunter and predator from a very young age. "My father was a ski teacher."
It was this natural introduction to the great outdoors, near his birthplace at Brian輟n in France, back in August 1965, that laid the roots for Lucs eventual career as a world-class skier. As long ago as 1983 he was the World Junior Champion in the Downhill at Séstrieres and took his first major career win at Val dIsere 11 years later.
He pursued his burning desire for global success over the subsequent years and was crowned Champion of France on nine occasions. Twice a winner of the Pro US Tour and a world ranked number one skiier, Lucho made the decision to switch to four-wheel cross-country rallying in 1998. His crowning glory on the piste was winning the Alpine World Cup in 1997. He took part in the Dakar Rally for the first time soon after.
"That first Dakar was a nightmare," says Luc. "We finished in a helicopter two days before the finish and left the car in the desert. I did not want to be there again. The following year I reached the finish for the first time and won the T1 category. Reaching the beach in Dakar was a very special feeling. We stopped the car and ran into the water."
In 2003, Alphand finished ninth overall in the Dakar Rally and won the Proto-Diesel category. In January 2004 he entered the history books by taking the first outright fastest time for a diesel car in the Dakar Rally - on the stage between Ayoun El Atrous and Tidjikja in Mauritania - and finished fourth overall with co-driver Henri Magne.
Luc joined the Mitsubishi team last summer to test and develop the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution and represented the team for the first time in the 2005 Dakar, taking second place behind Stéphane Peterhansel. Three months later he claimed his first ever FIA World Cup long-distance victory with Mitsubishi in Tunisia and went on to win the Baja Portalegre in Portugal last October.
But that was a mere dress rehearsal for his greatest ever motor sporting achievement - a maiden outright success on the Dakar Rally in 2006 and a record-breaking sixth successive win for the Mitsubishi team.