The corks popped, colourful confetti was flying through the air, some 100 cheering team members – and Stéphane Peterhansel, the MINI ALL4 racing driver who just had won the 2012 Dakar Rally, in the thick of it. This was the moment when a dream came true. The dream Sven Quandt had founded X-raid for, back in 2002.
The podium at Lima was the finish line of a long journey Sven Quandt and his team had completed: not only of the 9,000 kilometres across the South American continent but also of 10 years of hard work, successes and setbacks.
10 years ago, the Japanese brands dominated the off-road sport. The perfect motivation for Sven Quandt to enter the sport with a German car and a German team – and to do so successfully. Quickly, he opted for the BMW X5 and a diesel engine.
The official starting signal for the X-raid GmbH was the registration in the trade registry on 19th September, 2002 and simultaneously, the team was working flat out on the BMW X5. Before long, the team celebrated its maiden win: in the Baja Germany, courtesy of Belgium’s Gregoire de Mévius. In 2003 and 2004, X-raid and Frenchman Luc Alphand won the Dakar Rally’s diesel ranking and secured top-10 results in the overall ranking “That was the beginning of the entire adventure,” recalls Luc Alphand. “10 years later, the team could win the Dakar Rally.”
In the following years, X-raid won the FIA World Cup title six times. At the same time, the private team established as toughest rival of the works teams. “With Mitsubishi and VW, we had to fight with two truly competitive opponents,” underlines Sven Quandt. “Therefore, we quickly had to work on an extremely professional level.” In 2005, X-raid switched from the X5 to the X3CC, with this move representing another major step forward. The X3CC secured numerous successes and has remained a very popular off-road rally vehicle until today. But a real stir was caused by Team X-raid with the launch of the MINI ALL4 Racing for the 2011 Dakar. In that year, just one MINI was standing in the bivouac but in the following year, the team entered five colourful MINI ALL4 Racing vehicles.
During the course of the years, the X-raid cars were raced by numerous well-known drivers: apart from Luc Alphand who was a key player in the early years of the team, there was – for instance – Jutta Kleinschmidt who contested the 2007 Dakar at the wheel of the BMW X3 CC. Or Colin McRae, who was an X-raid team-member for a few months and was supposed to represent the squad’s colours in the 2008 Dakar. But then, his death shocked the entire motor-racing world. “Colin was the first major cornerstone in our history,” recalls Sven Quandt. “In the three months Colin was working for us he helped us making a major step forward.” The next cornerstone was the signing of Stéphane Peterhansel. He made his debut for X-raid in the 2009 Baja Spain – and three years later, he gave X-raid their first Dakar triumph by winning the event for the 10th time.
Currently, the team is working in Trebur on the preparations for the 2013 Dakar Rally. After all, the success story is supposed to be continued…