Jan 02, 2021
The start of the Rally Dakar 2021 in Saudi Arabia is just a few hours away. The X-raid Team has completed its preparations on site and is now looking forward to getting started. Tomorrow sees the competitors take part in the Prologue near Jeddah, before they head out onto the route for leg one of the Dakar 2021 the following day.
The first few days in Jeddah were rather different for the X-raid team members. After arriving, they all had to quarantine for two days in a hotel. This was followed by a Covid 19 test. On 30th of December, the cars were finally collected from the harbour and the Service Park could be assembled. Some of the cars had remained in Saudi Arabia, following their outings in the Baja Hail in the middle of December.
One day later, the drivers were in action at the Shakedown. The pairings who took part in the Baja Hail only took the cars out for a short spin, having already prepared them for the Dakar during the Baja. The cars that had been shipped to Saudi Arabia were given a thorough check and the final adjustments were made for the drivers and co-drivers.
Shortly before the start of the Dakar, Denis Krotov had to adapt to a new co-driver: Oleg Uperenko is the new man in the co-driver seat in the MINI JCW Rally. Konstantin Zhiltsov tested positive for Covid 19 before travelling from Russia and must unfortunately miss out on this year’s Dakar. Last year, Uperenko lined up alongside Aleksandr Dorossinsky in a MINI ALL4 Racing at the Dakar 2020.
The practical part was followed on Friday by theory: administrative checks for the drivers and technical scrutineering for the race cars. Unlike in previous years, the other team members were not required to go through the time-consuming process of the administrative checks, due to the measures put in place to protect against Coronavirus. Briefings for the crews, assistance and media were also held online for the same reason.
The competitors will complete an eleven-kilometre Prologue near Jeddah on 2nd of January. The sandy route will determine the starting order for the first leg, from Jeddah to Bisha.
Carlos Sainz: “The Coronavirus has meant that preparations for the Dakar have been different to previous years. Despite this, we are ultimately happy with where we are at the moment. Expectations are obviously very high. We line up in the same car with which we won in 2020. We have made a few improvements to the Buggy. Our goal is definitely to defend our title. The car, us drivers, and the team are ready to do just that. We had a very good final test at the Baja and now go into the rally full of confidence.”
Stéphane Peterhansel: “After this very different year, we are delighted to be here at the Dakar. I look back fondly on last year’s race, which was very interesting. Navigation was difficult and the scenery was stunning. It is a shame I cannot race alongside Andrea, but I am looking forward to working with Edouard. There is a good atmosphere between us and he has done a good job from the word go. The Baja Hail was very good practice for the Dakar and I am happy with the MINI JCW Buggy. The car was at a very good level last year, and we have made a few modifications since then. Carlos and I will do our best to present the team with another victory.”
Guiga Spinelli: “I am very happy to be competing in the Dakar again, after all, 2016 was the last time I competed. This year is a challenge for me: a new Dakar in a new country. I am happy that I am facing this challenge together with X-raid in a very good car. At the beginning, I want to find my rhythm and then get the best possible result.
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