FIVE MINUTES WITH XAVI FOJ
Cooper Tire Europe 4x4 ambassador, Xavier Foj, is currently competing in the 2016 Dakar Rally, his 26th entry into the world-famous endurance event.
Foj revels in the challenge of the Dakar, which started in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 02 January. Taking competitors on a 9,000 kilometre round-trip across Bolivia and back to Argentina, the Dakar finishes this year in Rosario on 16 January.
Including 13 stages of competition, over 15 days, with just one day of rest, the Dakar Rally is the ultimate test in motorsport. Foj Motorsport has entered the T2 category, which is a cross-country class for production vehicles. This is Foj’s favourite category, having previously won the T2 class in 2012 and 2013.
In a Toyota Land Cruiser 150 on the all new Discoverer STT Pro tyres from Cooper Tire, Foj is confident of another successful Dakar campaign.
We caught up with Xavi ahead of the Dakar...
When did you first think about competing in the Dakar?
“Back in Barcelona, at that time I was a biker. Each week we would buy Solo Moto magazine, and in that magazine they wrote about the first Spaniard that competed in the Dakar, it was on a bike. It entrapped me, fascinated me.
“I then competed in my first Dakar in 1991, competing in a truck we had converted from a working truck in the quarries (I worked in mining) into a race truck for the Dakar.”
How do you feel about the new Dakar route for 2016?
“In 2016 it was due to be Peru, Bolivia and Argentina – but is now Argentina, Bolivia, Argentina.
“For me, I like the dunes of Peru which are very difficult. We have the skills in these dunes and I have won two Dakar rallies in Peru.”
What’s your favourite ever Dakar adventure?
“The best is often the first time, as with many things in life. But from a sporting perspective, the year of our first victory in T2 – it was very nice.
“Also, the second time we won the class, it was incredible. This is because the President of Toyota, Japan, was in Argentina to see his team and he also came to congratulate me.
“Both T2 victories were on Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx tyres.”
How important are the tyres you use at the Dakar?
“Tyres are very, very important – particularly on the Dakar. They have to be resistant against the stones, highly durable in different conditions and at different pressures at high speed.
“Cooper’s tyres are resilient at low pressures over rocky surfaces, which is vital. The Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx carcass with class-leading 3-ply Armor-Tek3 construction technology has given me an advantage in the desert.
“In eight years I have been driving with Cooper in the Dakar, we have never had a puncture.”
It’s your 26th Dakar in 2016, are you aiming for 30 years of consecutive Dakar entries?
“I have a better record, I have finished the last 11 consecutive Dakar rallies on the podium in the production classes (T2 and T3) – the last eight on Cooper tyres.
“I don’t know how many more Dakar rallies I can do. But at this moment, physically I am fitter than ten years ago. If I’m still competitive, I will carry on. It is a very competitive race. It’s good for me, I like the Dakar.”
Keep up-to-date with Xavi’s progress in Bolivia and Argentina via Cooper Tire Europe’s Facebook and Twitter. For further information on the Dakar, visit: www.dakar.com.