Official MINI Motorsport Announcement. The X-raid Team is ready to defend its title. From Saturday on, Stéphane Peterhansel and his team-mates in the MINI ALL4 Racing will be in the hunt for the 2013 Dakar crown.
Ollanta Humala politely shook record Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel’s hand at the opening of the paddock, but the Peruvian president did show signs of nerves ahead of the start of the toughest rally in the world on Saturday. After all, the Dakar is starting in his country for the first time, and the tension is rising every minute. The teams have pitched their tents and set up the so-called “Dakar Village” on a 15,000 m² area in Lima. Here, in the capital of Peru, the vehicles are being prepared for Saturday’s start. From 08:00 local time (CET -6 hours), the cars, trucks, bikes and quads will roll over the official start ramp on the Playa Magdalena, before setting out on the first stage towards Pisco in the afternoon.
At the heart of the action is the X-raid Team, which lines up as defending champion following its victory at the last Dakar in January 2012. Back in November, Team Principal Sven Quandt put over 50 tons of material, including the MINI ALL4 Racing cars, on a ship in Le Havre and sent it on its way to South America, where the team will defend its title. The almost 100-strong team did not arrive there until the last few days. The final technology and fitness sessions were scheduled for December. Now everyone is ready to go. Following their epic voyage, the MINI ALL4 Racing cars are back on solid ground and the mechanics have checked all the technical details once again. After the technical and administrative acceptance test, the cars are taken to Parc Fermé, where they remain until the official start.
Time to get down to business
“The serious business begins now,” said Team Principal Quandt. “We are glad that the waiting is finally over. We are happy with our preparations and everyone in the team is highly motivated ahead of the next 15 days of the Dakar.” It is now down to the drivers to produce the best possible performances over the 8,574-kilometre route to the finish in Santiago de Chile. Concentration is key right from the word go. After the opening 13-kilometre stage, the drivers are thrust straight into the deep end. The vast dune fields on days two and three of the Dakar, which take the competitors from Pisco via Nasca to Arequipa, will sort the men from the boys. Many experts believe that this year’s 35th staging of the iconic rally is set to be the toughest test of all the Dakars held in South America so far.
Few expect the X-raid Team to dominate to the same extent as it did last year, when it won eight of 13 stages. The team faces strong opposition, and a number of changes to the technical regulations have significantly increased the chances of the buggies in the field. However, defending champion Stéphane Peterhansel and team-mate Nani Roma, who finished runner-up in 2012, believe competition is what makes motor racing so exciting. “The technical changes are in place to ensure an even competition, which in turn increases the excitement level,” said Nani. Both are confident they can depend on their car. “We know what the MINI is capable of,” said Nani. Stéphane added: “I have the utmost faith in the MINI ALL4 Racing.”
The stage is set for the 2013 Dakar Rally. From 5th January onward, you can find the latest information on the X-raid Team in our Twitter ticker at Twitter.com/MINImotorsport and at Facebook.com/MINImotorsport. You can also find detailed daily reports here on our website.[Source: MINI]