Helder Rodrigues at the 2011 Dakar Rally © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Fresh from being voted Portuguese Sportsman of the Year we hear from Hélder Rodrigues as he gears up for the 2012 Dakar Rally…

Winning the Portuguese Sportsman of the Year award was a great honour for me because it’s voted for by the public and also because of the other names on the list. Christiano Ronaldo was also nominated.

Football has always been the number one sport in Portugal and I don’t think that is going to change, but I’m happy to see Enduro and other types of motorsport getting more coverage in Portugal. That's why I dedicate my 2011 Enduro World Championship title to the people of my country and I hope that interest in my sport continues to grow.

Right now I’m at home in Lisbon, but I’m not getting much of a chance to stay in and rest. I’m out all day, training hard for the next Dakar Rally. My days are split into three training periods, spent mostly in the gym or out cycling. It's repetitive but necessary.

My mechanics tell me they’re working hard to get everything ready. I guess they must be working hard in the garage because I never see them on the running machine in the gym!

As part of my preparation for the rally, I also have a ten-day trip to Morocco planned in December. This will help get me into the right condition for the race. I'll have my bike with me and I'll focus on my navigation skills.

Training stops in the final week of the year and I will enjoy Christmas with my family and friends at home before heading to Argentina. It’s important that I do everything I can to prepare for the Dakar race. I put myself under a lot of pressure in the months leading up to the race.

When I’ve trained as hard as I can, it means that when I start the Dakar I can relax. I just need to know that I have given myself the best chance of having a successful race. When the preparation is correct, there’s nothing left to do but go out and enjoy the race.

I’ve been hearing great things about Peru and it’s exciting to go and finally race in a new country. This next Dakar ends in Peru so we'll hit fresh territory after having already raced many km of hard terrain in Argentina and Chile. I know there will be things I have to learn quickly about the race conditions in Peru. This is what the Dakar is all about though: the element of surprise.

Until next time…

Helder

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