MONSTER ENERGY X-RAID TEAM LOOKS FORWARD TO EXCITING NEW SEASON AFTER DAKAR SUCCESS
- Peterhansel aiming to improve on two fourth places in future
- Poland's Holowczyc reflects on best ever Dakar performance
- Career-best Dakar result for Ricardo Leal Dos Santos
- Germany's Schott delighted with top 20 finish after delays
- Mayer, Baumann and Beier reach the finish in 39th in their MAN
BUENOS AIRES (Argentina): The Monster Energy X-raid team is already looking to the new season and planning for next year's Dakar. The team claimed fourth, fifth, seventh and 20th positions in the 33rd Personal Dakar Argentina-Chile and team management is already looking ahead to an exciting new season of cross-country racing.
The French crew of Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret finished fourth overall for the second successive year and the nine-time winner of the Dakar insists that small mistakes on his part may have cost the team a lot of time and he has already pinpointed places where improvements can be made.
"This was not the result we maybe expected at the beginning," said Peterhansel. "But the car is at the finish in Buenos Aires and that is good for the team, the mechanics and the engineers. The motivation was big at the start of the race but we made too many mistakes. We had a lot of punctures and we lost the road some times. At the end it is not perfect that we were not able to do better.
"Maybe there is a small step between us and our rivals. It is possible to follow the speed but we need to be perfect and this time we made too many mistakes. This was not more difficult that the African Dakars but, for sure, it was the hardest of the three Dakars we made in South America."
"I think driving through the fesh-fesh is one particular area where we need to look at," added codriver Cottret. "There were large sections of this thick powder dust and it hides all sorts of problems. You are going fast and totally unaware that there can be rocks just under the surface and this is how punctures can happen."
Poland's Krzysztof Holowczyc and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin were both delighted with fifth in the overall rankings for the second time in three years, but Holowczyc insists that this year's success was much sweeter than the one he achieved in 2009.
"This was a hard race, harder than before," said Holowczyc. "Our fifth place two years ago was luck because a lot of the top cars retired. This time we kept the fifth position and were fighting with all the top cars from the start. From the sport ambition it is not nice to say fifth. I understand that my speed is like that at the moment, but I want more and know that I can be faster when I have more experience in this car. We will work on the car and that is exciting for the future."
Portugal's Ricardo Leal Dos Santos and Paulo Fiщza were aiming for a top 10 finish and surpassed those expectations with a fine seventh overall in their Monster Energy X-raid BMW X3 CC.
"We were very happy with the team and the car and our position," said Dos Santos. "We only had a few minor problems. The race was tough, but we made only small mistakes and that makes us quite confident for the future."
Stephan Schott and Holm Schmidt had hoped to finish inside the top 15 in their KS Toolsbacked BMW X3 CC, but a catalogue of delays ensured that they had an action-packed Dakar Rally that ended with a top 20 finish.
"I am happy to make the top 20 even if my expectations about myself were much higher at the start," said Schott. "This was the first time that I drove the BMW. I was learning all the time because it was a difficult rally. My problem was that every time I had a delay I tried to make up the time on the next stage and maybe I pushed too hard and damaged some parts on the car. I lost a wheel on the fourth stage because I was driving too fast and that was four hours wasted. Of the three Dakars that I have done, this was the most difficult."
Andrea Mayer, Thomas Baumann and Phillip Beier were the team's anchor crew, providing support in their MAN race truck, but they reached the finish nonetheless after assisting X-raid crews throughout the 13-day event across Argentina and Chile.
"It was a fantastic experience for me to race the Dakar in a truck," said Mayer, who was classified 39th in the final truck standings. "We had many long days and some nights with very little sleep, but that is what makes the adventure of the Dakar so special."
Russian driver Leonid Novitskiy and German co-driver Andreas Schulz were the first of three Monster Energy X-raid crews to retire from the top 10, after Novitskiy broke two bones in his left hand after trapping it in the steering wheel on the fifth stage between Calama and Iquique.
Argentina's Orlando Terranova and Portugal's Filipe Palmeiro also lost their top seven place when Terranova crashed heavily on the seventh stage between Arica and Antofagasta.
Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit was lying ninth overall at the Arica rest day with co-driver Michel Perin in the new Mini All4 Racing. But Chicherit took the car for a test drive at the rest day and was involved in a freak testing accident that damaged the new car beyond repair.
"We had four cars and one truck at the finish," reflected Monster Energy X-raid team director Sven Quandt. "I have mixed feelings about the result. We had many ups and downs along the way but we finished quite well even if it was not quite what he had expected. Maybe our main rivals were too strong this time, but we now know that there is no-one challenging behind us. Now we have to work hard over the next year to prepare.
"The Mini was in a very good position when it was withdrawn and it may well have been in fifth or sixth position at the end. We will develop that car further. We now have to look into what was causing the problem of the punctures. The setting up of the suspension was not 100% good, so we need to address this. The ASO said that it would be a difficult rally and it was. This is a correct way to run the Dakar.
"Krzysztof did a very good job and what is nice is that he is one of the few drivers who does not take risks and still wants to be fast. I hope he will come back next time and prove that he has even more potential.
Ricardo can be more than proud of himself with his performance. He had a good race and did not have to stop a lot. He was not super fast but being steady was the secret of his success. Stephan (Schott) drove steadily and was rewarded with a good finish."