Just 337 kilometres and 700 metres – a mere sprint for real marathon runners. The Baja Italia provided the X-raid team with a completely different test to the 5,000 timed kilometres of the Rally Dakar, at which Sven Quandt's troop completed a triumphant one-two with the MINI All4 Racing in January. X-raid lined up with just one duo, in the form of Khalifa Al Mutaiwei and his co-driver Andi Schulz. This was Al Mutaiwei's first outing in the 315-bhp Dakar prototype, which he guided to a notable seventh place after being struck by bad luck on day two of the rally.
This motto not only applies at the Rally Dakar, but also the XXS version around Pordenone in northeast Italy. A deep ford crossing cost Al Mutaiwei and Schulz several minutes. The duo was forced to stop briefly before being able to continue. Bearing in mind the short distance, this interruption was enough to prevent them from pushing on for the podium finish they had set their sights on.
"That was a shame, but I was not overly disappointed," said Al Mutaiwei, who won the 2004 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies with X-raid. "The MINI ALL4 Racing was absolutely brilliant. The handling was super, the chassis was super, and it was unbelievably good on gravel – almost like a WRC car. I constantly had to remind myself that it was not a desert rally, but a gravel event. All in all, I'm very happy with my learning curve throughout the rally. If we hadn't had that little problem with the ford, then we would definitely have finished in the top three."
The MINI ALL4 Racing, driven by Khalifa Al Mutaiwei/Andi Schulz, lined up under the old FIA regulations at the Baja Italia. This meant it featured an air restrictor with a smaller diameter, which efficiently constricts the air inhaled in accordance with the regulations. Team Principal Sven Quandt was also satisfied with the performance in this regard: "Khalifa had practically no chance of finishing any higher with the 25mm restrictor," said Quandt.
Victory at the Baja Italia went to Russians Vasilyev/Yevtyeekhov in a G-Force Proto.
Sven Quandt and his team will hardly have time to draw breath after the Baja Italia before they return to action. The troop from Trebur-Astheim, Germany, will compete at the Ha'il Rally in Saudi Arabia this weekend (20th to 23rd March). Top star Yazeed Al-Rajhi from Saudi Arabia will be striving to win the event for the third time – this time in a MINI ALL4 Racing. The Ha'il Rally takes the drivers on a three-day trip through the An-Nafud Desert in central Saudi Arabia. The main rival for Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who is also competing in the 2012 World Rally Championship, looks like being the experienced Frenchman Thierry Magnaldi.
The X-raid team will then be in action for the third weekend in a row when it lines up at the second event in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies from 30th March to 1st April. Khalifa Al Mutaiwei will line up at his home race – the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. The team will then enjoy a two-week break from competitive action before heading to the Sealine Cross-Country Rally in Qatar.
After finishing fifth in the Dakar 2013, Orlando Terranova will be showing off his new love – the MINI ALL4 Racing – in front of a home crowd at the Desafío Ruta 40 in Argentina.
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