Philippe Croizon: when your disability is your engine

After swimming across the English Channel despite having had his four limbs amputated, 48 year old Philippe Croizon has set himself a new challenge: to take part in the Dakar 2017 rally in the new SSV category. Let’s meet him.

Why have you chosen the Dakar race?

Getting to live the Dakar from the inside is a dream i’ve had ever since I was little, it’s the most legendary of all road-rally races. On top, in everything I do, I love adventure, especially human adventure. Living as part of a team and reaching your goals when 99% of people tell you it’s impossible, that’s really my main motivation. The Dakar corresponds perfectly to that philosophy. Although this time our ranking doesn’t matter, the most important thing is to make it across the finish line in Buenos Aires.

How’s your preparation going?

I first had the idea 17 months ago and I’ve been driving for the last 8. After the training phases, my co-pilot Stéphane Duplé and I took part in several different races, including the Morocco rally in 2016, where we finished in 15th place.

To get ready for this challenge, I’m in the middle of intense physical and mental preparations. Most importantly i’m making good use of hypnosis and cardiac coherence training, a technique that’s used by French fighter pilots to achieve a constant, regular heartbeat.

 What are your car’s unique technical specifications?

My buggy — equipped with BFGoodrich® tires — has been designed for me to be able to do everything on board, purely with my two arms, during the 10 to 15 hours of driving i’ll be doing every day. With my right stump, I can control the driving systems which cover acceleration, braking and direction thanks to a hydraulic control stick. With my left one, I can send my reports. That was really important to me! A small electronic selector switch under my arm transposes its upward and downward movements. After all that, my car has almost become an extension of my body!

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