REPSOL DRIVERS IN DAKAR 2006: LUC ALPHAND
What made you decide to take up motorsport?
I think, at first, I was addicted to speed through skiing. I had my daily dose adrenalin through skiing. My roots are from the mountains. I had an opportunity to start car racing, because of the name I had made through skiing. People heard that I loved car racing. I did no training, but had lots of pleasure when I first started.
The main goal at the beginning was to have fun. The first time in the car I felt so safe with the body shell around me. The engine noise was great. I had 13 years in the Ski World Cup with a rigid training program. Now this is a different world. I had a good advantage from the vision and the ability to analyse speeds but you need time to learn. From skiing you also need to read the terrain, like the dunes in the desert. It is similar in some ways. You need to decide when to take risks and when to ease off.
Where did you develop your fascination for the mountains?
I was born in the mountains and it is part of my life. I like this kind of nature, sometimes it's cold, sometimes it's warm and sunny - but mostly it's sunny in the mountains. I enjoy the life in the mountain area and I can relax. It's so quiet with good weather you can see the "whole earth. My father was ski-instructor and now we often go hunting together in the mountains. We can spend many hours together and only exchange a few words - we enjoy the nature--To be in the mountains is part of my life.
Isn't the desert such a contrast from the mountains?
I suppose I was not really prepared for the desert. I was born for zero negrees and heights of 1500 meters. I was born in the snow and started with ice hockey and skiing, sled and bobsleigh. Being outside in the winter was my life. Even with the ski team we would travel to the southern hemisphere in the summer to chase the show and cold conditions. The desert is a different world. 45 degrees C in the desert and more than 50 in the car, is completely a nightmare for me. I sweat in the car. It is not really my world. The desert was scary for me at the start. Now I am getting used to it.
What challenge do you get from motorsport with Mitsubishi?
Skiing was 110% per cent of my life and now I have competition to win races in a nice team. I love competition. The main spirit in Mitsubishi is experience. The team is well structured and organized. Everybody does what they have to do, but we all have one goal. Everything is possible this year. We are four drivers with the same car and we all want to win. I finished second last year. In 2006, I will have more experience. I hope to do a good Dakar. With a little luck, who knows?
There is a rumour that you once got into a washing machine. Is that correct?
I need to explain this. It was at the time of the lunar missions and me and my brother wanted to go to the moon. The washing machine looked like it came from outer space, so my brother closed the door behind me. He did not know how to open to the door and, thankfully, I mother was not too far away. Anyway it was not switched on! But the story is trough.
How important is your family in your life?
Family is the base of life. We all share the same passion together. We love to ski and all go into the mountains together. It was a big step in my life and a real challenge and now I am proud to be a father. "When I see my children and we can go motor biking and skiing together - my kids are already ski racing and winning some small races - then I feel very proud. I think this is important in my life, but I still have an ego and like to have my own challenges.
You speak five languages?
That has really come because of my lifestyle. My wife is Swedish, so I speak some Swedish, English I can speak quite well, French, of course, and we are very close to the border with Italy and I speak some word in German, because specially the Austrians was the "enemies" during skiing. Languages are very important and part of modern life. Europe is now one big country and I always say to my kids that they must learn languages as young as possible. They can learn mathematics, but it is the languages that they will need in later life.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I am one of those people who needs challenge. Maybe in the future it will not be in sport, maybe a new business challenge.
Do you have knowledge of mechanics and first aid?
I can say on the mechanical side I was more interested in mathematics and technology when I did my school exams. I love to know and to try and understand how things work. I started with my motor bikes when I was younger. I would open everything to see how it worked. In regards to first aid, I took an exam.
What is your biggest memory from motorsport so far?
The first Dakar was a nightmare. We finished in a helicopter two days before the finish and left the car in the desert. I said to myself I did not want to be there again. I also remember winning my first stage. It was two years ago. I was running alongside Ari Vatanen for 300 kms. It was like a dream for me, to be racing against Vatanen door-to-door. It was like being a kid watching big skiing stars on television. Last year finishing on the podium was also a great feeling for me.