- Good debut for the MINI JCW Rally Plus
- Al-Qassimi finishes 16th overall
The 2023 Dakar Rally was one of the most difficult editions in recent years. Sebastian Halpern and Bernardo "Ronnie" Graue overcame the challenges to secure ninth overall in the MINI JCW Rally Plus. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and Ola Floene finished the Dakar in 16th place in the MINI JCW Buggy, with Jakub "Kuba" Przygonski and Armand Monleon right behind them in 17th position in the MINI JCW Rally Plus. Denis Krotov and Konstantin Zhiltsov finished 21st in the MINI JCW Buggy.
The MINI JCW Rally Plus made its rally debut at the Prologue on 31 January 2022. The new X-raid family member in the T1+ category still had to struggle with a few problems in the first few days. But driver and team were able to improve the setup of the MINI together. Several top 10 finishes show the potential of the MINI JCW Rally Plus.
The first week of the Dakar 2023 was particularly challenging. Passages with large and sharp-edged stones caused numerous punctures and high time losses. The crews struggled especially on the second stage. Halpern was relegated to 32nd place in the overall standings. But the improvements to the MINI JCW Rally Plus showed their effect and the Argentinean was able to work his way further and further forward. On the last stage, he managed to jump up to ninth place.
For Przygonski, the preliminary decision also fell on the second stage. After problems they had to wait for the race truck and lost several hours. But in the following days things went better and better for the Pole and he was able to move up in the overall standings bit by bit. In the end, he even finished the Dakar 2023 in the top 20 in 16th place.
It wasn't an easy Dakar for the two MINI JCW Buggy crews either. The two-wheel drive desert racer is slowed down too much by the regulations. Sheikh Al-Qassimi and Denis Krotov therefore had no chance to keep up with the competition.
Tobias Quandt, X-raid Team Manager: "A difficult Dakar comes to an end today. It was a big challenge for the whole team. The rain and the cold temperatures were quite a strain on everyone. But all team members showed great commitment again and did a very good job. The MINI JCW Rally Plus has shown its potential. Nevertheless, we still have some work to do. As far as our Buggy is concerned - Khalid and Denis did their best. But due to the regulations, often more was simply not possible."
Kuba Przygonski: "It was a really tough Dakar. I like that kind of thing. That's how a Dakar should be. There was everything: stones, water, difficult navigation. Unfortunately, we had problems on one stage, but otherwise the rhythm and the pace were there. I had a lot of fun with Armand, who also did a great job. Now I'm happy to be at the finish."
Sebastian Halpern: "The stage today was fast but with difficult navigation. I am happy that we secured third place today. But I'm even happier about ninth place overall. Ronnie did a great job and the MINI ran great too. Many thanks to X-raid."
Dakar Rally 2023 overall standings
1. N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel – Toyota – 45h 03m 15s
2. S. Loeb / F. Lurquin – BRX – 46h 22m 04s
3. L. Moraes / T. Gottschalk – Toyota – 46h 39m 46s
4. G. de Villiers / D. Murphy – Toyota – 47h 32m 27s
5. H. Lategan / B. Cummings – Toyota – 47h 37m 38s
9. S. Halpern / B. Graue – MINI JCW Rally Plus – 49h 45m 53s
16. Sh. K. Al-Qassimi / O. Floene – MINI JCW Buggy – 52h 09m 44s
17. J. Przygonski / A. Monleon – MINI JCW Rally Plus – 52h 32m 05s
21. D. Krotov / K. Zhiltsov – MINI JCW Buggy – 53h 43m 31s
Photo: X-Raid / DPPI