TEAM X-RAID GMBH PASSES FINAL CHECKS BEFORE START OF 2010 DAKAR RALLY IN BUENOS AIRES

* X-raid drivers ready for opening special stage on January 2nd

BUENOS AIRES (Argentina): Team X-raid GmbH safely passed the scrutineering and documentation checks for the 32nd Dakar Rally at La Rural conference centre in Buenos Aires on Wednesday.

Team personnel will now make their final preparations before the ceremonial start of the world's most famous cross-country rally at the Obelisk on 9th of July Avenue in the Argentine capital's downtown area on New Year's Day.

The team's four BMW X3 CCs will then embark upon an ambitious 16 days of competitive action in a total route of 9,030km across some of the most demanding terrain in Argentina and Chile, before the event reaches its conclusion in Buenos Aires on Sunday, January 17th.

The Trebur-based team's equipment -- along with over 540 other media, competition and official vehicles - had arrived in South America just before Christmas on the giant Grand Brazile container boat that had set sail from Le Havre in France several weeks ago.

Under the directorship of Sven Quandt, X-raid team mechanics and officials duly collected the equipment from Delta Dock at Lima, near Buenos Aires, and then spent several days making any last-minute modifications to the cars before the official checks at La Rural, which will also host the ceremonial finish in two weeks' time.

North and South American competitors were summoned for scrutineering on Tuesday, December 29th, but the X-raid team also made use of the time by arranging their very own pre-event press conference. The press reception was hosted by Sven Quandt and attended by X-raid's team drivers and co-drivers in conjunction with BMW Group Argentina.

The teams that are likely to feature in the overall general classification, including Team X-raid GmbH, then passed the scrutineering and documentation checks on Wednesday, with additional time permitted for scrutineering on New Year's Eve.

"This is where all the hard work the team has carried out is put to the test," said X-raid team director Sven Quandt. "We have left nothing to chance in our preparations for this event and the whole team is looking forward to the challenge of the next 16 days."

Team X-raid GmbH's three drivers - Stephane Peterhansel, Joan 'Nani' Roma and Guerlain Chicherit - and X-raid Russia's Leonid Novitskiy will now have only 24 hours to recover from possible jet-lag and acclimatise to the warmer South American weather before the first competitive special stage of the 32nd Dakar Rally takes place on Saturday, January 2nd between Buenos Aires and Cordoba.

The two-day opening leg starts with the ceremonial start at the Obelisk and is similar to the final stage of last year's Dakar. Competitors will camp at Colon after a 317km liaison on New Year's Day.

Saturday's first stage will feature several WRC-style tracks through the Calamuchita Valley and cars will tackle a slightly longer special than the bikes - 251km as opposed to 219km.

A 349km liaison takes teams to the start of the competitive action and a shorter 84km liaison then guides crews into the overnight halt in Cordoba, Argentina's second city.

The city is situated in the foothills of the Sierra Chicas, 390 metres above sea level, on the Suquia River and is one of the oldest former Spanish colonial capitals.

-source: x-raid