10 of the 14 titles contested since the launch of the quad category in 2009 have gone to Argentinian or Chilean riders, but in 2022, Alexandre Giroud finally brought it home for France and extended his hegemony throughout the W2RC season.
While this dominant performance marks him as a favorite, the 19-strong field —in which Yamaha 700 cc quads are the steed of choice— is packed with riders bent on toppling him from the throne.
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Alexandre Giroud had been ready for a long time, but he had to wait until his 6th attempt to finally stand on the top step of the podium and bring the quest started by his father to an emotional close. Daniel Giroud had become the first rider to reach the Lac Rose on a quad all the way back in 1997, when the category did not even officially exist. These oddballs have since taken the Dakar by storm and experienced a golden age in South America, where quads are part of everyday life.
Now, a field of specialists are about to go head-to-head in a close-run race. The competition has got fiercer and the pretenders to the crown have less room for error than ever. After so many years, the Frenchman has the advantage of no longer having to prove that he can win the rally, and becoming the W2RC champion, with two victories in the Rallye du Maroc and the Andalucía Rally along the way, has only boosted his confidence.
Yet he knows better than most how precarious life at the top can be. Back in 2022, the stakes were still high going into stage 10, in which he benefited from the withdrawal of his closest rival, Pablo Copetti, a stage hunter who has finished third twice (2017 and 2021) in ten starts. The American-Argentinian rider will be looking to settle the score, as will 2021 champion Manuel Andújar, whose title defence ended in stage 6 due to injury.