Jan 11, 2020
The X-raid team can look back on a successful first week of the Dakar. Five of the six legs so far have been won by cars built by X-raid. Furthermore, Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz (both ESP) lead the overall standings in their MINI JCW Buggy. Their Bahrain JCW X-raid team-mates, Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) and Paulo Fiuza (POR), currently lie third overall.
Argentineans Orlando “Orly” Terranova and Bernardo “Ronnie” Graue enter week two in fifth place overall, having led the rally at one point. Saudi driver Yasir Seaidan and his Russian co-driver Alexey Kuzmich ended the first half of the race in ninth place.
Vaidotas Zala and Saulius Jurgelenas produced the greatest suprise so far at the very start of the event: The Lithuanian pair won the very first leg of the Dakar on Saudi soil in their MINI John Cooper Works Rally. They are currently 19th overall.
Sven Quandt, CEO of X-raid GmbH:
“So far, you can definitely say that this is a real Dakar, with tough terrain and extremely challenging navigation. However, I believe that this is precisely why everyone likes it so much. It also calls to mind the rally back in the time when it was in Africa. Once again, a look at the names at the top of the overall standings shows just how important Dakar experience is. Orly is performing very well and, unfortunately, Kuba had a problem with the gearbox on the opening day. We hope to see a good battle for the win, right down to the final stage.”
A rest day in name alone
The drivers and navigators may not have been fighting it out on a special stage today, but they have certainly not been sat around bored. They were obviously allowed to sleep a little longer, but they were already eagerly awaited by journalists and representatives of sponsors in the bivouac, as well as the halfway press conference together with X-raid partner Kärcher and Red Bull, and a number of other media appointments that were also scheduled for the rest day.
Nor did the mechanics and engineers have time to sit back and relax. All cars were almost completely dismantled today, in order to ensure they are perfectly prepared for week two. After all, the next few days include the marathon leg, on which the drivers must survive a night without the team.
New roadbook regulations well received
Navigation is playing a special role at this year’s Dakar. Prior to the rally, amendments were made regarding the roadbook. The biggest change was the fact that the co-drivers only receive the roadbook shortly before leaving the bivouac on most days. This is not a major problem for Lucas Cruz: “The new roadbook regulations meant we had to adapt the way we work in the car. On some days, we only receive the roadbook 15 minutes before we set off. In the car, you try to analyse the difficult sections, in order to be able to find the right way there. However, I have to say that I like the changes and find it good that we only receive the roadbook in the morning. Firstly, it allows me to sleep longer, as I cannot spend the night preparing and secondly, it is fairer, as everyone is in the same boat and cannot obtain any extra information.”
Paulo Fiuza also likes the new procedure: “So far, we have not received the roadbook until the morning on four days, and I think that this is a good idea. I am far fresher, even if it does mean more stress before the start of the leg.”
The roadbook itself has also changed. Information is now already colour-coded by the organisers and the type of navigation is also different. “This year, compass bearings are used a lot,” added Cruz. “You really have to be careful, as being just five degrees out can take you on a completely the wrong way.”
Scenery impresses competitors
Not only by the good organisation everyone is impressed, but also by the scenery in Saudi Arabia. The photos and videos may have led to high expectations, but they have been exceeded once in Saudi Arabia. Stéphane Peterhansel agrees: “Up until now, the scenery in the south of Algeria was my favourite. However, after the first week here, I have to say that it is even more beautiful here.” Sainz is also impressed and fully praised the organisers: “The ASO has found a really great route this year.”
Tomorrow’s leg takes the competitors from the capital to Wadi. After a 128-kilometre liaison stage, the drivers take on an extremely long special stage: 546 kilometres against the clock. This is followed by a short 67-kilometre stretch to the bivouac.
Dakar Rally – Overall result for the rest day
1. C. Sainz (ESP) / L. Cruz (ESP) MINI JCW Buggy – 23h 35m 05s
2. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA) Toyota – 23h 40m 51s
3. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / P. Fiuza (POR) MINI JCW Buggy – 23h 49m 23s
4. Y. Al-Rajhi (KSA) / K. Zhiltsov (RUS) Toyota – 24h 09m 51s
5. O. Terranova (ARG) / B. Graue (ARG) MINI JCW Rally – 24h 16m 57s
9. Y. Seaidan (KSA) / A. Kuzmich (RUS) MINI JCW Rally – 25h 33m 14s
17. A. Dorosinskiy (RUS) / O. Uperenko (LVA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 27h 02m 41s
18. D. Krotov (RUS) / D. Tsyro (UKR) MINI JCW Rally – 27h 05m 39s
19. V. Zala (LTU) / S. Jurgelenas (LTU) MINI JCW Rally – 27h 45m 14s
38. J. Przygonski (POL) / T. Gottschalk (GER) MINI JCW Rally – 31h 58m 23s
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