Stephane Peterhansel has admitted that he was starting to fear he would never reach a 10th Dakar Rally victory before winning this year's event.
The 46-year-old Frenchman had previously won the rally nine times – six in motorcycles, and three times in the car category – but last triumphed in 2007, before the rally's move to South America.
"When you think of how hard it is to win a Dakar, it's incredible that I've been able to win 10 of them," said Peterhansel. "It's been a long time, I've been waiting for five years to win again.
"To take the victory in South America is a huge relief, it ranks among my best triumphs. Moreover, the race was very close during the first week and there was always a lot of pressure."
This year's win was the first both for the X-raid team and the Mini brand, and Peterhansel said it would rank as one of the most poignant of his 10 Dakar victories.
"My finest victory will always be my first win in the motorcycle category, but this one has something special to it," he said. "I was starting to doubt myself, to think I was growing too old for this, that I'd lost it or that I wasn't made for South America...and, in the end, everything turned out fine.
"But I still have a blue bandana from my motorcycling period. I didn't tell anyone, but I kept it in my pocket throughout the entire rally. It's the story of the comeback of the blue bandana."