Xavi Foj - Catalan rally ace

Xavi has completed the illustrious Dakar rally a phenomenal 22 times and has used Cooper tyres in a range of events over the past three years. In this feature, Foj describes his experiences of using Cooper tyres during the Dakar 2012 rally.

“My relationship with Cooper Tires began three years ago, with the Discoverer STT model in Morocco and the experience was very good. For Dakar 2012, we asked Cooper for a new tread, which would work better in the sand. The result was the new Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx tyre. The structure of the new tyre is very similar to the STT, but with a less aggressive lug for better adaptation in sandy soils.

“I was delighted with the performance of the Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx tyres – they were great! The tyres were extraordinary as they worked very well throughout the rally on all surfaces; we drove across stony, dry riverbeds and terrible dunes without having to worry about the tyres. When driving over the fesh-fesh (the fine sand), we choose a pressure of 1.2 bars, for the off-road 1.4, and 0.6 over soft sand. We had entire stages with a pressure of 1 bar, and finished the race with the tyres in perfect condition. “In the desert we had very high temperatures, which can make the tyres suffer more, but the S/T Maxx tyres held up great. There was no fear of the tread ever coming off. We broke two wheels during the Dakar rally, but it was not because of the tyres, it was our mistake; at one point we had to hit hard against a rock at low pressure, hard enough to blow the tyre and even destroy the rim.

“The real value of the Discoverer S/T Maxx was highlighted by their performance over Peru’s dunes. Peru surprised us all for its roughness; whilst there, we truly felt that using Cooper tyres gave us an advantage – some of my opponents rode on BF Goodrich’s Mud Terrain tyres, which I have used in the past but frankly, I think that Cooper tyres are superior in the desert. I would drive with them to the ends of the earth!

Looking ahead…

“After a victory there is always a lot of optimism and looking ahead, there are many projects waiting. I especially want to focus on desert competitions. I also would like to contest the Rally TT Championship in Spain, but above all, the main competition I really want to concentrate on is the next Dakar rally.

Off-track…

“I normally drive a Toyota Cruiser with Discoverer S/T Maxx tires. During practice for the competition I've been driving on high, mid, and low pressures, and they always work great.”