De Mevius and Alphand enter UAE Desert Challenge

UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge
2003 FIA and FIM World Cups, final round

For immediate release
Wednesday, October 15th, 2003


UAE's Al-Motaiwi enters Victory Rally Team X5; New management role for Weber

DUBAI (UAE): Team X-Raid has entered two BMW X5s in the UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge, with local driver Khalifa Al-Motaiwi running a third car under Dubai's Victory Rally Team banner. The event gets underway with a Prologue stage on Palm Island, Jumeira, at 4pm on Monday, October 20th.

French former World Downhill Skiing Champion Luc 'Lucho' Alphand lines up with co-driver Arnaud Debron alongside the Belgian former FIA World Group N champion Gregoire de Mevius and co-driver Alain Guehennec. Al-Motaiwi will be partnered by the German Phillip Tiefenbach.

The powerful diesel-engined X5s have been prepared at workshops in Trebur, near Frankfurt, and were tested extensively in July in Morocco over both sandy and rocky terrain. According to team manager Erik Schindler, revisions have been made to the chassis and the UAE Desert Challenge will be used to further develop the cars in preparation for January's Dakar Rally.

Owned by former competitor and management consultant Sven Quandt, the X5 team entered the five-day Marlboro event across the sands of the UAE for the first time last year, but both cars suffered from overheating and transmission problems. New Sporting Director Erwin Weber joined the operation recently and is confident that the reliability issue has been solved and the cars are more competitive.

Weber, 41, was the 1992 European Rally Champion and finished second overall in the 1992 Paris-Cape Town Rally in a Mitsubishi Pajero behind French team mate Hubert Auriol.

Before switching to team management with SEAT and Volkswagen three years ago, the highlight of his career was winning the 1995 World Rally Championship's Formula Two category in a SEAT Ibiza. He worked for Volkswagen's new raid team in the Dakar Rally this year. As a team manager he also won the German and Austrian rally championships with driver Mattheus Kahle in 2000 and the German series for a second time the following year.

~It is a great boost for the UAE Desert Challenge to welcome the X5 team again this year,~ admitted Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the chairman of the organising committee. ~Sven Quandt has been a regular competitor here in the past and Luc Alphand and Gregoire de Mevius enjoyed their visit last year.~

Alphand has achieved several excellent results this season. He won both Baja races in Germany and Spain to give the X5 its first ever cross-country victories and tackled the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a GT car. De Mevius finished fourth in Spain, but has an impressive record on the Dakar and is long overdue a major victory.

Al-Motaiwi was a founder member of Dubai's Victory Rally Team in the mid-1990s alongside Sheikh Suhail bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum and is a previous winner of the Qatar International Rally. He finished second overall in the Baja Spain this year and runner-up to Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel in Tunisia last season in a Ralliart Mitsubishi Pajero.

This year's UAE Desert Challenge is being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Minister of Defence. The event reaches its conclusion on Friday, October 24th after four gruelling desert stages through the remote Arabian deserts.


For further information about this year's event, contact the Marlboro UAE Desert Challenge office, PO Box 1714, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel: + 971 4 2669922 Fax: + 971 4 2666996 or E-mail: rallyuae@emirates.net.ae

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge press office, Dubai International Marine Club, Dubai, UAE, Tel: + (9714) 3994673, Fax: + (9714) 3994149, Mob: + (971 50) 5594369
E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com
www.ndp-publicity.com/press releases

Date issued: 15/10/2003

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