25 Nov 08
WRC regulars Peter van Merksteijn and Nasser Al Attiyah will each contest the Dakar 2009 as part of the official factory team BMW X-Raid.
Van Merksteijn, who drives a Ford Focus RS in the WRC, confirmed the deal at the weekend and becomes the third member of a team with strong WRC connections.
The Dutchman, and co-driver Eddy Chevaillier, will line-up alongside ex Citroen S1600 driver Guerlain Chicherit and his co-driver Matthieu Baumel and 2006 P-WRC champion Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-driver Tina Thorner.
As owner of Van Merksteijn Motorsport Peter is a hardcore car fanatic who often competes in the WRC against his son, Peter Jnr, who also drives a Focus. As well as being a familiar face in the WRC service area this year Peter Snr was one of the winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Porsche RS Spyder.
Al-Attiyah endured a frustrating P-WRC campaign this year but did well on home ground to clinch the FIA Middle East Rally Championship. The Qatari also became the first driver ever to win a hat-trick of FIA Championships in the same year by winning the FIA Cup for Cross Country Baja and the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.
The crews will each drive BMW’s latest cross country vehicle - the X3CC - on the marathon rally which starts on 3 January. For the first time this year’s event is based in South America rather than Europe and Africa. Starting from Buenos Aires crews will cover almost 10.000km on a two week trek that winds through Argentina and Chile.
Two times World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz will also tackle the re-vamped Dakar. The Spaniard and his co-driver Michel Perrin will drive for the factory Volkswagen team.