Andalucía Rally X-Raid: Second place for Carlos Sainz

– Stéphane Peterhansel finishes fourth
– Successful debut for Cristina Gutierrez

At the Andalucía Rally in Spain, which was organised at short notice as a replacement for the cancelled Rallye du Maroc, the two men from Spain Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz clinched a very good second place in the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy. Stéphane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger (both FRA) finished fourth in the MINI John Cooper Works Rally. Cristina Gutierrez and Ignacia Santamaria enjoyed a successful debut in the MINI ALL4 Racing and finished the rally in eighth place. Yasir Seaidan and Omal Allahim were doing really well in the MINI ALL4 Racing. However, a time penalty prevented them from getting a better result, and the two Saudis had to make do with 10th place. Denis Krotov (RUS) and Dmitry Tsyro (UKR) retired after an accident on the first stage.

Sainz went into the Andalucía Rally with modest expectations. The narrow tracks that are more like those in the WRC only suit the two-wheel drive MINI JCW Buggy to a limited extent. But the man from Spain was among the front-runners from the start and even clinched a stage victory on the final special stage. This saw him finish in second place, trailing winner Nasser Al-Attiyah by three minutes. « I am very happy with the result, » said Sainz. « If someone had predicted that, I would not have believed them. Apart from that, we learned a lot for the Dakar. We did not experience any technical issues and all the new parts also worked. »

There was no luck for Peterhansel in Andalusia. He battled with his tyres on the first two special stages. On day one, a flat tyre saw him slide into a stone and break his wishbone suspension. After a brief stop for repairs, he crossed the finish line in ninth place with the MINI. The next day, the wheel rim broke, which took extra time when changing the tyres. He was fast in the MINI JCW Rally the rest of the time, which saw him secure a good fourth place overall. « First of all, I’d like to thank David Castera for organising this rally and giving us the opportunity to train for the Dakar and test the new electronic roadbook, » said Peterhansel. « I was really pleased with the performance of the MINI JCW Rally. Edouard and I are working really well together now. Unfortunately, I made too many mistakes: we had four flat tyres in total. I have probably spent too much time driving the Buggy in recent years and forgotten how to drive a 4×4 at the limit. Many thanks to the team. Carlos did a great job with the Buggy and I am feeling really positive about the Dakar. »

Gutierrez took charge of the MINI ALL4 Racing for the first time and got to grips with the car well right from the start. She attracted attention on the first special stage with fourth place and position eight on the third stage saw her move into the top 10. Because of her consistency, the Spaniard secured eighth place, despite a time penalty. « I’m really happy with my result in Andalucia Rally and, most of all, the great experiences I made with the X-raid Team. I have built during these days an special connection with MINI ALL4 Racing and all the staff of the team. Many thanks for the big support I’ve received and the fantastic job they’ve done for me. X-raid Team has made me feel at home! I wish we could compete together again in the future. »

Seaidan finished the Andalucía Rally in 10th place. If he had not received a time penalty for overspeeding, the MINI ALL4 Racing driver would have ended up in a much better position.

X-raid team manager Sven Quandt: « A successful event; the scenery was beautiful and the tracks were interesting. They were very narrow and not really suited our Mini JCW Buggy. Which is why we expected to finish in the top 5. Second place is fantastic! Carlos drove brilliantly. Stéphane was able to get best times every day and show what the Mini JCW Rallye is capable of, but unfortunately tyre damage also stopped him every day, costing him valuable time. In the end, fourth place is a good result.
« I’m particularly pleased with Cristina’s great result. She showed that as a woman she can keep up with the men. Almost always finishing in the top ten and even a fifth place in the daily standings secured 10th place for her – without a time penalty, a top-6 finish would have been possible. Yasir battled with the navigation and with several time penalties. But when everything was going well, he stood out with consistent top 5 times. Unfortunately, the time penalties meant he only finished in 10th place. »

Andalucía Rally overall standings
1. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA) Toyota – 8h 59m 09s
2. C. Sainz (ESP) / L. Cruz (ESP) MINI JCW Buggy – 9h 02m 23s
3. Y. Al-Rajhi (KSA) / D. von Zitzewitz (GER) Toyota – 9h 09m 40s
4. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / E. Boulanger (FRA) MINI JCW Rally – 9h 24m 35s
5. F. Dieguez (ESP) / J. Lamela (ESP) Toyota – 9h 42m 13s…
8. C. Gutierrez (ESP) / I. Santamaria (ESP) MINI ALL4 Racing – 9h 53m 17s
10. Y. Seaidan (KSA) / O. Allahim (KSA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 9h 57m 12s…

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