Monster Energy set to support three X-raid BMW X3CCs

 Argentina’s Orlando Terranova confirmed in X-raid line-up

 BMW X-raid crews attend fitness camp at Tignes in France

 Leonid Novitskiy and Andreas Schulz claim 2010 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies

TREBUR (Germany): Monster Energy and the BMW X-raid Team have joined forces to create the Monster Energy X-raid Team, which will tackle January’s 33rd Personal Dakar Argentina-Chile (2011 Dakar Rally) in South America.

The Trebur-based operation will field seven cars in the world’s most famous off-road rally, with Monster Energy supporting three of the teams. Peterhansel is the most successful driver in the history of the Dakar Rally. He won the race six times on a motorcycle, before switching to racing on four-wheels in 1999. Partnered by Cottret, Peterhansel claimed three victories in the Dakar on four wheels and finished fourth overall with the X-raid Team on the 2010 Dakar in South America – his first with the German team.

The Frenchman has also achieved numerous wins in rounds of the FIA World Cup, is a two-time World Enduro champion and took part in the Race of Champions in 2005 and 2006. He joined the X-raid team for Baja Spain 2009 and won the recent Rally of Morocco. Cottret switched to co-driving in 1992 and finished second with Peterhansel on the Dakar in 2000. He has won the gruelling event with Peterhansel on three occasions (2004, 2005 and 2007) and has also been successful in numerous smaller Bajas and FIA World Cup rallies.

Dos Santos and co-driver Fiùza drive a second Monster Energy-backed BMW X3CC. Dos Santos switched from riding a quad on the Dakar to racing in a car and will take part in his first marathon challenge with Xraid. He finished 14th overall and first privateer in the 2010 Dakar and completed the recent Rally of Morocco with the X-raid team in seventh place. Chicherit and experienced co-driver Périn crew the third Monster Energy-backed car. Chicherit finished fifth overall in this year’s Dakar Rally. The former Extreme Skiing World Champion has been driving for the X-raid team since the 2006 Dakar Rally. He won the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and Transiberico, was ninth in the 2009 Dakar Rally and claimed the prestigious FIA World Cup for X-raid the same year. Périn was a three-time winner of the Dakar with Frenchman Pierre Lartigue and is one of the most experienced co-drivers in the FIA cross-country rallying discipline. His first victory with the X-raid team came at the

Baja Spain 2009 and he was leading the 2009 Dakar Rally with a rival team for several days. “We are obviously delighted to announce Monster Energy as a key sponsor of the X-raid team,” said a delighted Sven Quandt. “We now have our largest ever Dakar team with seven cars and we are confident that we have strength in depth and experience across the team spectrum.” X-raid team director Sven Quandt has also confirmed that Argentina’s Orlando Terranova has joined the BMW X-raid team to drive a seventh car alongside the French duo of Stéphane Peterhansel and Guerlain Chicherit, Portugal’s Ricardo Leal Dos Santos, Russia’s Leonid Novitskiy, Poland’s Krzysztof Holowczyc and Germany’s Stephane Schott.

The seven drivers will be co-driven by Portugal’s Filipe Palmeiro, the French duo of Jean-Paul Cottret and Michel Périn, Portugal’s Paulo Fiúza, Germany’s Andreas Schulz, Belgian Jean-Marc Fortin and German Holm Schmidt, respectively. Terranova, from Mendoza in Argentina, represented the BMW X-raid Team in the 2009 Dakar Rally and was running inside the top 10 before leaving the road and damaging his car in a deep ravine. He was the first Latin American driver to win a round of the FIA World Cup, when he claimed victory in the 2009 Rally of Tunisia. Palmeiro co-drove Terranova to that Tunisian success in a BMW X3CC and is one of the most experienced Portuguese cross-country participants. He has also worked in the X-raid team with Brazil’s Paulo Nobre and Dutchman René Kuipers in the 2009 Dakar. Last season he co-drove for the Brazilian privateer Guilherme Spinelli and is a regular competitor in the Portuguese Off-Road Championship.

The team recently took part in a five-day test near Zagora before the Rally of Morocco and select team members have just returned from a five-day fitness-training schedule at Tignes in France’s northern Alps. They used a bivouac for one night and stayed in a chalet next to Lake Tignes at 2,000 metres above sea level for the remaining nights. Team members took part in hiking and running and attended a wellness centre, before walking in snow shoes from 2,100 metres above sea level to the glacier restaurant at over 3,000 metres. “It was a useful way of improving fitness, team bonding and communication between crew members,” added Quandt. Novitskiy and co-driver Andreas Schulz clinched the 2010 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, marking the third successive occasion that the BMW X-raid team have won the coveted title and the fourth in total.

The Russian tackled the 2009 Dakar Rally with X-raid, finishing eighth overall, and he went on to finish second in the Rally of Morocco after returning to the sport following a high-speed accident in the Libya Tunisia Rally. Novitskiy and Schulz have been a regular pairing ever since the 2009 Rally of Morocco. They finished second overall in the Baja Spain Aragon and won the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in March 2010 on the way to the FIA World Cup title. The Russian also earned a maximum points’ score in June’s Rally TT Vodafone Estoril-Marrakech. Leonid won the Russian Rally Cup in 2005 and was Russian champion two years later.

Schulz began his Cross-Country rallying career as a mechanic, before graduating to become one of the top co-drivers in the sport. The Bavarian won the Dakar on two occasions in 2001 and 2003 and has been a regular face in leading Cross-Country rallies since the 1980s, partnering many of the leading names in the sport, including Jutta Kleinschmidt, Carlos Sainz, Hiroshi Masuoka, Andrea Mayer, Carlos Sousa and now Novitskiy.

Krzysztof Holowczyc will be taking part in his first Dakar with the X-raid Team. A former FIA European Rally Champion, he has been the top Polish driver in cross-country events in recent years and teams up with regular Belgian co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin in a PKN Orlen-backed BMW X3 CC. Stephan Schott is the co-founder and CEO of KS Tools in Germany and joins the BMW X-Raid team for the first time with co-driver Holm Schmidt. The German has been a regular on the cross-country rallying scene for several seasons and finished 16th in the 2005 UAE Desert Challenge and 18th the following year. He also recorded a 17th-placed finish on the Middle East event two years later and has finished his two Dakar Rally outings in 74th and 26th overall in 2009 and 2010.

The route

The 2011 Dakar Rally starts in Buenos Aires on January 1st, 2011 and finishes in the Argentine capital on Sunday, January 16th. Day one action takes teams in an anti-clockwise northerly direction for the first time from Buenos Aires to Victoria on New Year’s Day. This section is followed by an overnight halt in Argentina’s second city – Cordoba – on January 2nd and then the action heads west towards the Andes foothills and San Miguel de Tucuman for the first time. The route then climbs towards San Salvador de Jujuy – close to the border with Bolivia – and heads on to the town of Salta.

On January 5th, teams tackle a stage across the border in Chile between Salta and Calama in the Atacama desert and the route continues to head north towards Iquique, one of the most northerly points in the Chilean Atacama. The traditional rest day takes place at Arica on Saturday, January 8th. The 2011 Dakar then heads down the spine of Chile, taking in an overnight halt at the mining city of Antofagasta on January 9th and then reaching Cópiapó on January 10th – the town which made international headlines in mid-October for being the closest hub to the San Jose mine where 33 miners were rescued after 68 days trapped under the Atacama. Crews will tackle a loop stage around Cópiapó on January 11th, taking in some of the towering Atacama dunes, before the route re-crosses the spine of the Andes mountain range and reaches Chilecito via the San Francisco Pass and the notorious white dunes on the Argentinean side of the border. From Chilecito, the route reaches San Juan and heads on to Cordoba and back to Buenos Aires on January 15th, before the official ceremonial finish on Sunday, January 16th.