JOAN `NANI' ROMA AND MICHEL PRIN JOIN THE X-RAID TEAM FOR TRANSIBERICO RALLY * Guerlain Chicherit aims to clinch third FIA World Cup for X-raid * Portugal's Filipe Campos and Bernardo da Maia complete line-up TREBUR (Germany): Joan `Nani'...
JOAN `NANI' ROMA AND MICHEL PRIN JOIN THE X-RAID TEAM FOR TRANSIBERICO RALLY
* Guerlain Chicherit aims to clinch third FIA World Cup for X-raid
* Portugal's Filipe Campos and Bernardo da Maia complete line-up
TREBUR (Germany): Joan `Nani' Roma and Michel Perin have joined the X-raid team for the 2009 Transiberico Rally and will drive a BMW X3 CC on the final round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit drives a Trebur-built BMW and will be hoping to win the FIA World Cup for the first time and give the German team a second successive FIA title and a third in total. The event takes place between June 18th-21st in Portugal and Spain.
Chicherit, partnered by Swedish co-driver Tina Thorner, heads into Europe's premier FIA World Cup event and the final round of the three-event series with a seven-point championship lead over team-mate Orlando Terranova, the winner of the second round in Tunisia.
While X-raid focuses on Chicherit's bid for the world title, Sven Quandt's team has also arranged for Roma and Perin to test a BMW X3 CC for the first time on the shortened four-day event, which starts with a short super special stage, near Estoril, on Thursday, June 18th.
Roma will drive the car for the first time in Portugal, with a view to making a permanent move to the X-raid team later in the summer. Ideally, he and Perin will represent the Trebur-based operation in the 2010 Dakar Rally in South America.
Roma won the 2004 Dakar Rally with the factory KTM motorcycle team and switched to rallying on four wheels when he joined the Mitsubishi factory team. He went on to win events like the Qatar Baja and Baja Spain and was a front-runner on several FIA World Cup events.
Co-driver Perin is arguably the most experienced of all the Cross-Country co-drivers and won the Dakar on three occasions with Pierre Lartigue. He was a former member of the Volkswagen factory team and co-drove Carlos Sainz to the outright lead over several days in this year's punishing Dakar Rally in South America.
He achieved victories in the 2008 Central Europe and 2007 Transiberico rallies with Sainz and actually co-drove for X-raid's Guerlain Chicherit back in the 2004 Monte Carlo Rally.
The X-raid team line-up includes the talented Portuguese driver Filipe Campos and co-driver Jaime Baptista, while Bernando da Maia and Joana Sotto Mayor drive the fourth X-raid car.
"Obviously it's an exciting time for the X-raid team and the priority is to ensure that Guerlain retains the FIA World Cup for us," enthused team director Sven Quandt.
"But we are also delighted to see Joan and Michel in another of our cars and to be able to support two Portuguese teams on their local event.
"This is a demanding rally and the focus will be on making sure that Guerlain can continue the form that brought him that excellent win in Abu Dhabi on the Desert Challenge back in March. It will also be interesting to see how Joan performs on his first event with the BMW X3 CC."
Competition on the final round of the shortened FIA World Cup is likely to come from local hero Carlos Sousa in a Mitsubishi Lancer, Miguel Barbosa in his privately-run BMW X3 CC that receives X-raid support, FIA World Cup contender Yayha Al-Helai, from the UAE, in his Nissan Patrol and the Russian Boris Gadasin, a regular competitor in the FIA Baja series.
The official event timetable kicks off with scrutineering, documentation and the ceremonial start on Wednesday, June 17th. Teams then leave Estoril in the direction of Castelo Branco on June 18th and tackle a short special stage and a longer timed selective section, before reaching the overnight halt.
Day two takes crews from Castelo Branco across the border into Spain to the overnight halt at Merida. En route, X-raid crews will tackle two further selective sections of approximately 150km each with a service stop scheduled in Valverde del Fresno.
The third leg leaves Merida en route to Beja and includes two slightly longer selective sections with a service stop in Mora.
The fourth and final leg on Sunday, June 21st takes place between Beja and Estoril and includes two sections of approximately 180km apiece, with the ceremonial finish in Estoril's Casino Gardens bringing the official timetable to a close from 6pm.