2004 British National Rally champion Steve Perez is ready to tackle the rough stages of the Andes, which form part of the classic Incas Rally, an event he will be competing for the first time in his rally career.
Perez will join some of the most experienced drivers in the country who will all be looking to take the grand prize at an event known for its mechanical and physical demands and for being the most important one in the country.
Last year, four-time world rally champion Juha Kankkunen made the trip to Perú next to Seppo Harjanne, who is one of the stewards of the rally this year, to give it a shot at the popular event, finishing third overall behind former winners Ricardo Dasso and Ernesto Jochamowitz.
This year Perez is one of the two international competitors who will be contesting the Incas Rally and his plan is to have a conservative and consistent pace, knowing the roads will be much rougher than the 2007 edition.
"I am very excited about this rally because I always heard it was a big adventure. But, I have to control my adrenaline as this is a very long event that needs a lot of tactic," said the Kick Rally Team driver in the pre-event press conference. "I want to finish the rally so we need to keep it steady and try not to break the car.
"I also have one of the most experienced local co-drivers with me, who is Michael Baca. I chose him rather than bringing my own co-driver from England because he knows the roads very well and experience counts more than ever in this type of event; he has also won it before."
Perez and Baca completed a test near the city of Huancayo on Thursday to get familiar with each other and so that Steve starts getting used to driving at altitudes of more than 3000 metres above sea level.
"I have trained a lot before coming to Perú so hopefully I won't have any problems dealing with the altitude. It is the first time I will be carrying oxygen inside the car but I think I will be okay as I will be too busy driving and paying attention to the obstacles on the road," he added.
The event started with a super special stage at the National Stadium on Thursday at 8pm [local time] - the first time in the history of Peruvian motorsports that a stage has taken place inside this venue.
Competitors had a day of rest on Friday before taking their cars to the start line on Saturday for the first leg of the rally consisting of 216kms of competitive gravel, with the first car starting at 9am [local time] from the city of Pacarán.