Peterhansel, Sainz, Despres join X-Raid Mini JCW Team for 2019 Dakar Rally
After spending four years together with Peugeot and following a withdrawal of the French manufacturer from cross-country rallying, three men that have twenty Dakar victories in total found a new team for future challenges.
The Mini John Cooper Works Buggy will be a new machine for two Frenchmen and one Spaniard. Sainz and Despres will make their debuts in the new car at the Rallye du Maroc, which gets underway on October 4.
Carlos ‘The Matador’ Sainz is the reigning Dakar champion. In January 2018, he clinched his second victory at world’s toughest race. Earlier in a career, he won at Dakar Rally in 2010 with Volkswagen and took two WRC titles with Toyota in 1990 and 1992. His co-driver would be Lucas Cruz.
Cyril Despres 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). Despres will race in a Mini with a navigational help of Jean-Paul Cottret.
Unlike Sainz and Despres, who are new in Mini rally cars, Stephane Peterhansel is returning to X-Raid Team. Peterhansel has a nickname ‘Monsieur Dakar’ and it says the most about the 53-year-old Frenchman who won thirteen times at Dakar Rally, six times on motorcycles and the other seven times on four wheels. Two of those seven wins Peterhansel scored with X-Raid’s Mini All4 Racing in 2012 and 2013. Peterhansel raced with X-Raid from 2010 to 2014.
“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. Stephane 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,” X-Raid Team principal Sven Quandt said.
Carlos Sainz: “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.
Stéphane Peterhansel: “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.”
Cyril Despres: “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.”
Photos: Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull,