You are now in the final preparation for the first Dakar in South America. How did the final testing go for you in France?
The final test in France went very well. We are using the same material as we have been using throughout the year, with just small modifications with the suspension etc., and the adaptation to suit the new rule about noise requirements. So far everything is going very well.
Describe how you have been personally preparing for the Dakar 2009. As well as training on the bike, do you have any special fitness programs? Any mental training?
The work load has increased a lot in the recent months and I have spent many hours in the gym and on the bike so that I can be in top shape in January. Regarding mental training, I continue to work with a sports psychologist that I have been working with for 10 years now. These days it is quite normal for a sportsman to work together with a psychologist.
The Dakar 2009 breaks new ground and brings lots of new challenges. What are your own expectations going into the race this year?
We have a new Dakar in 2009 and this also means new deserts. But I am confident that it will also be great and that it will have the same kind of Dakar spirit. That means it will be hard and there will be risks to take.
The Dakar 2009 is going to take you over 6000 km and through a major part of both Argentina and Chile and over a lot of different terrain. Have you had any experience riding in those countries and what do you think might be the biggest challenges?
I know Argentina and Chile a bit from a previous world championship in Patagonia. The first part of Dakar will be quite familiar but the second half will be totally unknown to me. The heat and the altitude will be among the biggest challenges.
How do you feel about the idea of hold the Dakar in South America and coming in contact with different cultures?
Having the Dakar in South America represents a radical change. It is totally different to Africa but the language will be easier for us Spaniards!
Will you miss Africa?
No, but I won’t forget Africa. It is a constant point of reference for me and it is a place that I would like to return to.
Before you leave for the Dakar 2009, how do you plan to celebrate Christmas?
I will celebrate Christmas with all my family. They are very special and so it this occasion.
Looking beyond the Dakar 2009, what are your plans for the next racing season and what are your special goals?
Our objectives for the 2009 season are very ambitious. We are hoping to have victories in all the events we participate in, both in the Dakar and in other events as well.