Dakar 2024: Toughest Dakar in Saudi Arabia
- Annett Quandt finishes 19th in the Challenger classification
- Holowczyc and Zala in 47th and 53rd place
The Dakar in Saudi Arabia, the first round of the 2024 World Rally Raid Championship, is over after twelve stages and almost 8,000 kilometres of special stages. It was an exhausting and challenging 15 days for X-raid! Annett Quandt and Annie Seel finished the Dakar in 19th place in the Challenger classification in the X-raid 1000R Turbo Side-by-Side. The two MINI JCW Rally Plus crews Krzysztof Holowczyc / Lukasz Kurzeja and Vaidotas Zala / Paulo Fiuza finished the cross-country rally in 47th and 53rd place in the Ultimate classification.
Before the start on 5 January 2024, Rally Director David Castera had already announced that it would be the toughest Dakar since the move to Saudi Arabia. The numerous problems that caused many of the favourites to suffer setbacks show just how demanding it was. Hardly any of the drivers survived the almost 8,000 kilometres without having to repair their vehicle once during the stage.
X-raid suffered a number of setbacks on the very first days of the Dakar. The run of bad luck lasted almost the entire two weeks. Pau Navarro and Pál Lonyai had to withdraw due to injury. In addition to a number of technical problems, there were also numerous accidents, so that after the first week all the vehicles had to give up their hopes of a top position. Nevertheless, the team and crews managed to motivate themselves again and again. The two MINI JCW Rally Plus crews Vaidotas Zala / Paulo Fiuza and Krzysztof Holowczyc / Lukas Kurzeja, as well as Annett Quandt and Annie Seel in the X-raid 1000R Turbo reached the finish in Yanbu.
For X-raid, the season is just getting started. The Saudi Baja takes place at the beginning of February as part of the FIA World Baja Cup. The second round of the FIA World Rally Raid Championship, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, is scheduled for the end of February.
Quotes from the drivers
Tobias Quandt, X-raid Teammanager:
“This Dakar was certainly the toughest since moving to Saudi Arabia. It pushed man and machine to their limits and beyond. We at X-raid had to experience this first-hand. Pau, who was already unable to continue at the start of the Dakar, as was Pál later on. Krzysztof also had to struggle for a few days with the consequences of his evasive manoeuvre. But we also return home with some homework to do. Vaidotas put in a great performance in the first week. Unfortunately, the suspension damage dashed all hopes of a top position. Annett did a really good job. She completed every stage within the maximum time and thus secured a place in the top 20. In conclusion, we can say that we have taken a step forward in the development of our vehicles. The potential for a top position was definitely there. Now we all have to work on ensuring that this is also reflected in the results.”
Vaidotas Zala (#214 MINI JCW Rally Plus):
“The Dakar was crazy. For us it was like a rollercoaster – up and down. The last stage was great. Nice and smooth to drive. We simply had fun. The finish is beautifully situated. Close to the crystal blue sea with palm trees and beautiful weather. Now we need some rest and time to process the experience.”
Krzysztof Holowczyc (#217 MINI JCW Rally Plus):
“We finished the Dakar 2024. It was probably the toughest I’ve ever taken part in. After all the adventures we’ve had here, I consider reaching the finish line our small success. Physical pain after the second stage, crashes, accidents and adventures. The Saudi desert has beaten many competitors. The sporting part is of course not what we had hoped for, but we did get some great news: Our partner BIO-GEN has decided to donate 10PLN for every kilometre of the rally, not just the scoring kilometres. In total, we drove 7697 kilometres!”
Annett Quandt (#321 X-raid 1000R Turbo):
“We’re absolutely delighted to have made it to the finish. This Dakar was extremely tough. Super difficult for man, machine and head. Almost 50 per cent of the vehicles broke down, but we made it to the finish. Finishing on the podium was our greatest wish. We are proud that we managed to do this and were able to motivate ourselves again and again. Annie is a great co-driver. We work really well together and always have a lot of fun.”
Overall standings Dakar 2024
1. C. Gutierrez / P. Moreno – Taurus – 53h 59m 47s
2. M. Guthrie / K. Walch – Taurus – 54h 35m 33s
3. R. Baciuska / O. Vidal – Can-Am – 54h 58m 34s
4. F. Lopez / J. Latrach – Can-Am – 55h 11m 07s
5. A. Jones / G. Gugelmin – Can-Am – 55h 44m 34s
19. A. Quandt / A. Seel – X-raid 1000R Turbo – 76h 15m 30s
1. C. Sainz / L. Cruz – Audi – 48h 15m 18s
2. G. de Mevius / X. Panseri – Toyota – 49h 35m 43s
3. S. Loeb / F. Lurquin – Prodrive – 49h 40m 30s
4. G. Chicherit / A. Winocq – Toyota – 49h 51m 17s
5. M. Prokop / V. Chytka – Ford – 50h 32m 01s
47. K. Holowczyc / L. Kurzeja – MINI JCW Rally Plus – 137h 11m 53s
53. V. Zala / P. Fiuza – MINI JCW Rally Plus – 158h 23m 03s