Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s Nani Roma has been forced into a last-minute change of co-driver for next week’s Dakar Rally after Dani Oliveras tested positive for COVID-19.
Roma, who won the Dakar in 2004 on a motorcycle and then in 2014 in a car, will be co-driven by Alex Winocq instead. His team-mate in the Prodrive-run outfit will be nine-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb.
In a team announcement, Winocq, who first attended the Dakar in 1999 as a mechanic, said: “It is incredibly disappointing for Dani (Oliveras) not to be able to help Bahrain Raid Xtreme in the team’s first Dakar Rally, but I am delighted to join.
“Nani and I thank the BRX team for welcoming me. I had been preparing for the Dakar for some time, but my previous plans did not go as expected, so having the opportunity to compete with such an experienced and skilled driver as Nani is very exciting.”
According to the team, Oliveras may well have had sufficient time to recover from COVID-19 but BRX stood by its decision to protect the bivouac’s wider health given the global circumstances.
While the change of co-driver just under a week from the start of the event is far from ideal, Roma is confident he can hit the ground running with Winocq, having known him for a long time already.
“I want to thank Dani for all his commitment and support in preparing for the Dakar Rally, and I regret that he cannot put all the work done into practice,” Roma said.
“I have known Alex for a long time, and he is a very experienced and talented person to have by my side. We are ready to start working together, and the entire team is excited to have him join us, especially on such short notice.”