The Dakar Rally is arguably the world's most dangerous motorsport race, but for one newcomer it cannot compare with what he has already been through.
British soldier Tom Neathway will be co-driving in the 16-day event, which traverses the mountainous desert terrain of South America, despite losing both his legs and an arm after standing on a booby trap while serving in Afghanistan in 2008.
He effectively died three times, and had to be resuscitated on each occasion on the operating table back at base.
"I think the Dakar's less dangerous than what I've done, and I think I knew what I was getting myself into when I signed up for it," Neathway told CNN. "Saying that, most of the guys I've spoken to about the Dakar never do it again, so it's clearly not easy."
Founder Thierry Sabine described the grueling endurance event as "a challenge for those who go, a dream for those who stay behind."
A total of 25 competitors have lost their lives since the inaugural race started in Paris in late 1978, and more than 50 people overall including spectators. Only 74 of the 182 entrants for that first staging made it as far as the Senegalese capital Dakar.
Sabine himself died during the 1986 race when the helicopter in which he was traveling was struck by a sudden sandstorm.
Traditionally, the race wound its way from Europe down to the south-west of Africa, but was relocated to South America in 2009 because of terrorist threats. This year's 33rd staging will start on January 5 in Lima, Peru, and finish in the Chilean capital of Santiago.
Neathway is well aware of the rigors of rallying -- he has only just recovered from a broken arm after crashing badly at one of his warmup events -- but it pales into insignificance compared to what he experienced on July 22, 2008.
"We were on a routine patrol when we came under enemy fire," recalls Neathway, who is one of five injured military personnel taking part in the 2013 race. "I was part of the sniper team and moved into position to provide covering fire for my fellow troops.
"The area I went to was already cleared by metal detectors where there was a sandbag. I asked for it to be checked again and it was. Then I lifted the sandbag and the blast took off my feet and badly damaged my left arm.
"At the time, the first thing I checked was my cock and balls. Once I saw my feet weren't there, I was more focused on just stopping the bleeding than worrying about not walking again. I remember joking around -- as I'm into my cars -- that I wouldn't be driving my Subaru anytime soon.
"It's odd to think there's that sort of banter just after getting blown up. There wasn't any panic, it was all very straightforward.
"I remember I was conscious throughout the whole thing. I was surprisingly okay and chatting to the medic throughout. It was then that I felt I'd be okay despite quite heavy blood loss. I'd been blown up a couple of times before but obviously this one was a lot more serious."
Having been restored to full health, Neathway will compete for the Race2Recovery team, with funds raised going towards injured servicemen and women.
He will be the navigator for able-bodied driver Justin Birchall for the 8,000-kilometer event. The challenging route has desert stages virtually from the outset, then goes through gaucho territory in Argentina after crossing the Andes before the challenge of the Chilean dunes.
Despite the dangers of the race, for some its lure is just too much. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's son Mark was a notable entry in 1982, when he went missing for six days along with his co-driver and mechanic.
After being spotted by a Algerian air force plane, Thatcher downplayed the severity of the incident, insisting that all he needed was "a sandwich, a bath and a shave."
Prince Albert of Monaco was another high-profile entry three years later along with five-time Tour de France cycle race winner Jacques Anquetil in 1986 and French rock singer Johnny Hallyday in 2002.
Former France international rugby player Christian Califano competed in the motorbike category from 2009-11.
"I didn't worry about accidents. I didn't think about that at all. I didn't really worry about the dangers until the end as there's no point worrying about these things as that's when things go wrong," he said.
"For me, the Dakar was always a dream. When I played rugby, I used to say, 'Guys, one day I will do the Dakar and they'd be like 'Shut up Christian, don't be crazy, you'll never do it, you're a liar.'
"When they heard I'd entered they again said I was crazy but I didn't feel crazy. I just loved the whole experience. I was like nothing else."
This year's entry list features almost 200 competitors in the motorbike class, 115 in the cars, 40 in the quad bikes and 176 in the trucks.
Read: Dakar spectator dies in Argentina