Category-win and successful hardness test for X-raid Team.
"You are already winner when you manage to finish this rally, all the more we are happy that in the end we could win the diesel-category of four-wheeled vehicles", was the first remark of X-raid pilot Luc Alphand at the finish of the Dakar Rally 2003.
Egyptian seaside resort Sharm El Sheik, well known for its lovely diving areas, at 7:45 o 'clock local time was start for the cars on to a last bend of 56 kilometres. A last special stage over 34 kilometres led the teams once more on gravel and stony tracks.
One more time the BMW X5 of the X-raid team worked without difficulty and as a result, Luc Alphand showed muscles with the power of his Bi-Turbo diesel. At the end of the stage Alphand finished second, 1:16 minutes behind once more winner of day classification, Ari Vatanen (Nissan). Alphand managed to take 2:30 minutes away from his hardest rival in competition for the win of the category, Spaniard Jose Luis Monterde, and with a total 12:13 minutes lead on Monterde secured his victory in the overall ranking of the category.
Team manager Sven Quandt after finish was satisfied: "I think that we could demonstrate the efficiency of the BMW X5, our pilots and our team impressively. I hardly remember that ever in the history of the Dakar Rally a private newcomer-team has given such an excellent performance. We are especially proud of having written a new chapter in the Dakar history with the victory of Luc Alphand at Stage 14, the first ever victory of a diesel-powered four-wheeled vehicle. We have found out the efficiency of the BMW X5s and how reliable technique has worked. Luc did an excellent job, even if without the time-penalty and his accident a better result would have been possible. All around, we are satisfied with his place. Gregoire de Mevius between Stage 4 and Stage 11 was permanently in Top Five of the overall ranking and from Stage 8 onwards even in podium position. Therefore it is more than a pity that he could not make it to the finishing line with his BMW X5. But this is what the Dakar is like. On 17 strenuous and exhausting stages we discovered that the team was holding together excellently and the motivation was terrific. Best prerequisites for an exciting raid-season."