High goals for the 2004 Dakar Rally set by X-raid
The X-raid team on the hardest rally in the world. A start signal on 1. January 2004, the finishing flag on 18. January 2004 - between these dates lie over 11,000 kilometres of gravel tracks, rubble, sand as far as the eye can see and the challenge of the desert. For the second time the X-raid team will have two BMW X5s at the start of this, the hardest rally in the world.
The second year is always the most difficult. This is not just true of motor sport generally but particularly applies to the Dakar Rally, which many pilots and teams have already "experienced" in the fullest sense of the word. The team from Trebur (near Frankfurt/Main) wants to show that exceptions often prove the rule and they are already well acquainted with playing an exceptional role. Having already passed fiery initiation rites as a newcomer in the 2003 Dakar Rally with confidence; the X-raid team with Belgian pilot Grégoire de Mévius and Luc Alphand from France driving turbo-diesel BMW X5s established itself amongst the world's best with a stage-win, three second places and altogether 16 placements in the top five. For the troop of seven-nation team members this result created a stimulus and a challenge at the same time: the stimulus, to improve even more and the challenge, to go ever closer to their own limits.
X-raid has used the time since the 2003 Dakar for extensive further development, both technically and on the personnel side. As these four-wheel drive prototypes on a tubular framework are already well-equipped with approximately 270 HP strong BMW turbo-diesel engines (six aligned cylinders, three liter c.c., two turbochargers), special attention was paid to the development of improvements to the chassis. Thus the geometric set-up was precisely optimized, numerous shock absorbers were tested and the vehicle center of gravity lowered and improved. The success of these measures was shown during the course of the year: Luc Alphand shone with two victories (Baja Germany and Baja Espana Aragón) and Grégoire de Mévius came third in the UAE Desert Challenge. When questioned on the high expectations for the 2004 Dakar, sports director Weber explained: " The BMW X5 X-raid project has very good groundwork and that is the main attraction for me to collaborate here. The car has been continuously developed, the team structure optimized and we demand high standards from our work. With Grégoire de Mévius and Luc Alphand we have two successful drivers, who can compete with the works drivers at any time and also the team and the BMW X5s have proved their potential often enough in the meantime. Our goal is now to co-ordinate all the parameters so that an absolute optimum can be reached. It is certainly not reckless optimism, when I say that we want to be up at the front of the Dakar."
Clever driving methods and flair will be in great demand with this 26th edition of the Dakar Rally over a length of more than 11,000 kilometers. 16 stages (two in Europe, 14 in Africa) offer material punishing distances over boulders, deep sand runways, difficult navigation and huge dunes, before the final flag falls in Dakar. For the X-raid team, as mentioned before, this offers both stimulation and a challenge simultaneously, and, as always, the racing driver's maxim also applies here: ' To finish first, you have to first finish '.