Sainz, Peterhansel, Despres: tris d'assi per X Raid
Possiamo dire che Sven Quandt si era scocciato di stare a guardare. La vittoria della Dakar manca dalla squadra tedesca da ormai troppo tempo secondo il team manager di quella che ora è sicuramente diventata la squadra più importante e preziosa nel panorama dei rally raid e per questo ha deciso di giocarsi tutte le sue carte. Quando il team Peugeot si è sciolto, come aveva annunciato, Quandt ha teso la mano ai piloti rimasti disoccupati ma sin dall'inizio non si è trattato di una trattativa facile.
Oggi, a un giorno dalla partenza del Rally del Marocco le cui verifiche inizieranno domani mattina a Fes, la X Raid è uscita allo scoperto dichiarando la composizione del suo team. Per ognuno di loro ci sarà una Mini John Cooper Works Buggy e mentre Sainz e Despres la testeranno in gara nei prossimi giorni, per Stephane Peterhansel bisognerà invece aspettare la Dakar, che sarà la sua prima gara con questa vettura che fece il suo ingresso lo scorso anno a novembre nel mondo del tout terrain, in una presentazione a Parigi, proprio negli stessi giorni in cui venne presentata alla stampa la 40. edizione della Dakar.
Se accanto a Carlos Sainz ci sarà Lucas Cruz, fedele copilota, si discuteva nei giorni scorsi su chi avrebbe affiancato Cyril Despres: svelato l'arcano. In Marocco visto che Peterhansel correrà con un SSV Yamaha copilotato da sua moglie Andrea, 'Polo' Cottret si è ritrovato sfaccendato e così ha accettato per questa volta di sedersi sul sedile di destra e di fare questa nuova esperienza con Cyril.
La vettura è stata leggermente modificata rispetto a quella vista in gara alla Dakar 2018 ma anche in alcuni dei rally del 2018, condotta fra gli altri anche da Luc Alphand: Carlos Sainz in questi mesi di sviluppo ha contribuito moltissimo alla cosa e continuerà a farlo anche nei prossimi giorni dando importanti informazioni al team in previsione della massima sfida della Dakar 100 % Perù.
Official Press Release of X Raid, in english
The start of the 2019 Dakar Rally in Lima is just three months away. To ensure that they have the best hand in the battle for victory, X-raid has added three big names to its ranks: Carlos Sainz, Stéphane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres switch to the German team, for whom they will each drive a MINI John Cooper Works Buggy! As such, there will be a total of 20 Dakar victories at the steering wheel of the three cars, which were designed and assembled by X-raid. Peterhansel is the record Dakar winner, with 13 victories in total on motorcycles and in cars. Sainz has two wins to his name, while Despres has won five Dakar Rallies on a motorcycle.
Sainz and Despres will make their debuts in the new car at the Rallye du Maroc, which gets underway on 4th October with the prologue in Fez, Morocco!
In Carlos Sainz, the reigning Dakar champion switches to the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy. The Spaniard clinched his second victory in January, having previously triumphed in 2010. “El Matador” is one of the biggest names in rallying and has his sights set on win number three in 2019. Before he switched to off-road racing, Sainz was twice crowned World Rally Champion (1990, 1992).
Stéphane Peterhansel is by no means an unknown quantity for the X-raid team. The Frenchman switched to the Trebur-based team after the 2009 Dakar. In 2012, he claimed the maiden Dakar win for X-raid in the MINI ALL4 Racing. He then repeated the feat the following year. He now returns to the German team after over three years away. In total, “Mr Dakar” has won the iconic desert rally a remarkable 13 times. Six of these wins came on motorcycles, the other seven on four wheels.
Cyril Despres is the youngest member of the MINI JCW Buggy trio. However, he already boasts a wealth of experience. The Frenchman has won the Dakar five times on motorcycles (2005, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013). He switched to the car category in 2015, since when he has won the famous Silk Way Rally on two occasions (2016, 2017).
The Rallye du Maroc will be the first official outing in the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy for Sainz and Despres. Sainz lines up alongside his long-term co-driver Lucas Cruz, while Despres will put his faith in the navigational skills of Frenchman Jean-Paul Cottret.
The X-raid team has worked hard on the further development of the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy in recent months. The car has completed thousands of test kilometres in Morocco and Europe, in order to ensure that it is competitive at the 2019 Dakar. As well as achieving a significant weight reduction, other components of the buggy have been optimised. The team has taken a big step forward, particularly in terms of the electronics, and has improved the performance of the car.
“This trio is obviously a dream cast, which also brings with it a wealth of experience. Carlos has given us a lot of support during the development of our MINI and has taken us forward in this regard – particularly in terms of the set-up. Stéphane is an old friend and I am delighted to have him back in the team. Cyril has also shown what he is capable of in recent years, and I am intrigued to see how he puts his ability into practice with us. In any case, he already has plenty of kilometres under his belt in our car.
Our MINI has satisfactorily completed a lot of test kilometres in recent months and we are very excited about its first competitive outing.”
“A new team, a new car, and with them a new challenge. I am very optimistic that we will master this challenge. We are well prepared. I love the challenge of working with, developing and getting the best out of a new car. That is always exciting. We have worked very hard so far and the MINI has taken a big step forward. I am happy with the car and we still have time to develop it further.
“I have had two victories at the Dakar with X-raid – they are very fond memories. I am happy to return to the team, together with Carlos and Cyril. I was very excited when I climbed into the X-raid MINI. It is great fun and easy to drive. We have made a few changes to the chassis and were able to reduce the weight. That allowed us to take a big step forward. The next Dakar may only take place in one country, but I find Peru a very interesting and nice country. There are big dunes and open desert – that makes the rally very interesting.”
“I have a new car, a new team and a new co-driver, but the same passion and motivation. I am very much looking forward to lining up in the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy. It is really great fun to drive a car like this – I am definitely a buggy driver. The team behind the MINI is doing its very best and it is fun to drive it. Jean-Paul is one of the most experienced co-drivers on the rally raid scene. I have known him for a very long time – a good 15 years. Ever since I started racing on two wheels, Jean-Paul has been the one who helped me with any questions regarding navigation. We will almost exclusively be on sand at the 2019 Dakar. One mistake and it could all be over. There are a lot of opportunities to get bogged down and lose time. The coming Dakar will be extremely intensive and challenging.”