WATCH: Dakar Rally star tackles desert sand dunes

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The two-time Dakar Rally champion is currently competing in the famous race and won a dramatic opening stage on Monday.

And in their latest video entry, Red Bull go behind-the-scenes with the Qatar star and see what it is really like to take on extreme desert terrain.

The experienced racer says fitness and mental toughness are two key components needed to compete in the world-famous event.

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Video: Red Bull




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IN PICS: Sheikh Khalid begins Dakar Rally on positive note

Abu Dhabi Racing boss and driver Sheikh Khalid bin Faisal Al Qassimi and co-driver Pascal Maimon opened their 9,000km Dakar Rally endurance behind the wheel of a Peugeot 2008 DKR on a positive note having completed the opening stage of 454km from Asuncion in Paraguay to the overnight halt in Resistencia in Argentina in top 20 out of 77 cars.

Having completed his pre-rally preparations first in the Liwa Desert in Abu Dhabi and then Dubai, Sheikh Khalid arrived in Paraguay and immediately got down to work with his crew ahead of the short 39km prologue from Asuncion in Paraguay, the ceremonial start was attended by thousands of rally fans.

Obviously enjoying his new experience in the world’s biggest cross-country rallies, Sheikh Khalid is now looking forward to the next 11 stages ahead of what is a two-week long testing time for both man and machine.

Sheikh Khalid Bin Faisal Al Qassimi said: “This is amazing; thousands of fans here in Paraguay to witness their first Dakar Rally. This experience is really thrilling and overwhelming!

“This is my debut at the Dakar so this short first stage of 39km in Paraguay and then driving down to Resistencia in Argentina for the next stage was all about learning and I am sure that I will continue to learn over the next couple of weeks.

“Obviously, the main aim is to finish the Dakar Rally and bring the car home safely but should the opportunities be there I will not hesitate to raise the bar.

“The motivation is very high; this is just the beginning and there will be hard times ahead but I aim to be up to the challenge.”

The Dakar Rally 2017, will cris-cross through three South American countries from January 2-14 (Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina).

With the addition of Paraguay for the very first time, the Dakar visits a 29th country in its 39-year-old history, the 5th on the South American continent.

The second stage on January 3 comprises of 803km, of which 275km will be competitive, from Resistencia to San Miguel de Tucuman in Argentina.

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Sheikh Khalid ready for Dakar Rally

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Preparation pays off: Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi.

Ahead of the challenge, which will see him cris-cross through three South American countries from January 2-14 in some of the most demanding terrains, Sheikh Khaled tested for four days in the Liwa and Dubai Deserts behind the wheel of the Peugeot 2008 DKR run by PH Sport.

Sheikh Khalid will be the official ‘Peugeot Sport’ driver and they will offer their technical support to his car during the Rally. He had also successfully tested the 2008 DKR last September ahead of his Rally Morocco cross-country participation the following month.

Speaking about his Liwa test and his first participation at the Dakar, Sheikh Khalid said: “The test was very important as I have never done the Dakar before and also have low mileage with the Peugeot 2008 DKR, but this is just part of the many challenges.

“All the mileage that I have put in over the Liwa test has helped build confidence and gauge how I drive the car in multi changing terrain although it is more sand and more dunes here and to deal with it was very, very difficult.

“I was also trying to build a good understanding with my new co-driver (Pascal Maimon) and we wanted to understand what we wanted from each other, but this will be further refined during the actual event.

“The car itself has a lot of potential but we had to drive and treat it differently in the sand and dunes without taking too many risks as had we stopped, we might have got stuck. The 2008 DKR is a new challenge and a huge learning curve for me.”

Sheikh Khalid said the support of PH Sport and Peugeot will be a big factor during the rally.

“I’m going to South America with my friends and team, all of who have huge motorsport experience and background,” he added.

“For us, it will be about enjoying the event. Sure there is bound to be stress, but we will hope not to stress to the limit because the aim is also to put in the mileage.

“I have not driven in high altitude areas before, so I did some training wearing a high altitude mask but it will still be one of the many challenges for me.

“As it is the first time for me and the team at the Dakar, it will be very important to learn the terrain, not make too many mistakes and bring the car home safe on January 14.”

Run over approximately 9,000km, the world’s most famous and challenging endurance cross-country race will start in Asuncion in Paraguay, have a rest day in La Paz in Bolivia, with the finale in Buenos Aires in Argentina.

With the addition of Paraguay, the Dakar will visit the 29th country in its 39-year-old history.

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