|SA-Dakar 2011: Holowczyc, Schott and Leal dos Santos driving with X-Raid.|
The Trebur-based operation will field five BMW X3 CCs with Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel being joined by Poland’s Krzysztof Holowczyc, Russia’s Leonid Novitskiy, Portugal’s Ricardo Leal Dos Santos and Germany’s Stephane Schott.
The quintet will be co-driven by Frenchman Jean-Paul Cottret, Belgian Jean-Marc Fortin, German Andreas Schulz, Portugal’s Paulo Fiúza and German Holm Schmidt respectively, as X-raid team director Sven Quandt builds a team with valuable experience for the 2011 Dakar challenge in South America.
"We are still in discussion with potential sponsors to finalise the programme and our team lineup," said X-Raid team director Sven Quandt. "But I am delighted to announce our provisional driver and co-driver line-up for the 2011 Dakar Rally. Our team has a wealth of experience with the rigours and demands of the Dakar and I am confident that we can achieve success in January."
Peterhansel is the most experienced member of the driving team and is also the most successful competitor in Dakar Rally history to have made the transition from bikes to cars. He completed a series of six stunning wins on two wheels, before making the switch to car racing to take three victories. The Frenchman and his regular co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret won the Dakar in 2004, 2005 and 2007 and joined the BMW X-Raid Team for the first time to finish second overall in last year’s Baja Spain Aragon. ‘Peter’ and Cottret set four of X-Raid’s six fastest stage times during this year’s Dakar and eventually finished fourth overall. They also won the recent Baja Spain Aragon in a BMW X3 CC.
Krzysztof Holowczyc is a former FIA European Rally Champion and has been the top Polish driver taking part in cross-country events in recent years. He is one of the most popular sportsmen in Poland and officially announced this week at a press conference in Warsaw that he is driving a X3 CC in the coming Dakar. He will team up with his regular Belgian co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin in a PKN Orlenbacked BMW X3 CC in South America.
"The dream has finally come true for me," admitted Holowczyc. "When I stood at the start of the Dakar for the first time, I’m glad that thanks to my sponsor PKN Orlen, I have been given the opportunity to join a professional team." Leonid Novitskiy had been an integral member of the BMW X-Raid team for several seasons and finished 11th overall in this year’s Dakar.
The Russian and co-driver Schulz (winning Dakar co-driver in 2001 and 2003) teamed up together for the first time to record second overall in last year’s Rally of Morocco and have been a regular pairing ever since, finishing second overall in the recent Baja Spain Aragon. Novitskiy is also in an unassailable position in this year’s FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. He won the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge back in March and also recorded a maximum points’ haul at the Rally TT Vodafone Estoril-Marrakech in June. The Russian has a 19-point lead in the four-round series before the final round in Egypt in October.
Portugal’s Ricardo Leal Dos Santos, 38, is the youngest driver in the provisional X-raid line-up. He is one of the most promising of the latest crop of competitors in the cross-country discipline and was the first Portuguese to finish the Dakar riding a quad in 2003. He went on to claim victory in the Quads World Cup in 2005 and won the solo category at the 2006 Lisbon-Dakar Rally. The highlight of his Dakar career – which includes outings on a quad, driving an old Pajero with no assistance and twice competing with no co-driver - was the stunning 14th overall and first private driver award in this year’s event with his BMW X5.
His Co-driver Paulo Fiúza began his rallying career as a navigator in 2001 and has been a regular competitor in Portuguese off-road sport. He clinched the off-road national championship title in 2003 and has also taken part in several Dakar rallies.
Stephan Schott is the co-founder and CEO of KS Tools in Germany and joins the BMW X-Raid team for the first time with co-driver Holm Schmidt. He has been a regular on the cross-country rallying scene for several seasons and finished 16th in the 2005 UAE Desert Challenge and 18th the following year. The German also recorded a 17th-placed finish on the Middle East event two years later and has finished his two Dakar Rally outings in 74th and 26th overall in 2009 and 2010. He has achieved a level of consistency with his results and is relishing the switch from a Mitsubishi Pajero to a BMW X3 CC.
The 2011 Dakar Rally will start in Buenos Aires on January 1st, 2011 and finishes in the Argentine capital on Sunday, January 16th. The traditional rest day will take place at Arica in the Chilean Atacama Desert on Saturday, January 8th.
2010/06/20 | 12:01 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/QUANDT