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MINI prepares to defend Dakar title


January 4, 2013

X-raid MINI ALL4 Racer

X-raid MINI ALL4 Racer

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Despite an available ALL4 all-wheel drive, the MINI Countryman isn't necessarily the most ideal car to take off road – unless of course it's outfitted for Dakar dominance. Last year's event saw the Countryman taking home the top spot and four other top-ten finishes, with the overall victory secured by French driver Stéphane Peterhansel in his 10th career Dakar win. The Monster X-Raid Team has prepared the Countryman to defend its strong performance at last year's Dakar Rally .

Apparently, reaching double digits didn't quite satiate Peterhansel's appetite for victory. He will be back to defend his title at Dakar 2013 piloting one of four MINI ALL4 Racing cars that X-raid will run in this year's rally.

Standing in Peterhansel and Co's way is a new 4,970-mile (8,000-km) course expected to be the most difficult ever seen in South America. Over the course of 14 days, drivers will engage with the harsh, unforgiving ground of three countries (Peru, Argentina and Chile) – from some of the driest desert on Earth to the Andes Mountains and beyond. This year's rally is the first to begin in the middle of the desert, essentially throwing drivers right into the thick of things.

Each X-raid driver will benefit from a thoroughly vetted MINI ALL4 Racing car, a heavily modified Countryman upgraded for the rigors of the Dakar course. In addition to sporting ALL4 all-wheel drive, the race-ready Countryman has a new rear spoiler designed to increase downforce and ventilation, six-point harnesses over the top of the Recaro motorsport seats, and an Original MINI Accessories kit that protects the car from rocky projectiles on the aprons and side skirts. Each car is painted in new high-visibility colors.

The ALL4 racer is powered by a 300-hp 3.0-liter BMW twin-turbo diesel engine. That diesel grinds out 514 lb-ft of torque at 2,100 rpm, a reserve of twist that will be important on the loose, shifty ground of Dakar. MINI lists the top speed at 110 mph (178 km/h).

Peterhansel and team won't have to wait long to get their shot at glory. The 35th Dakar Rally begins this Saturday, January 5, in Lima, Peru. Peterhansel will be joined again by co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret, who was part of last year's victory. The other three MINI vehicles will be piloted by Spanish driver Joan ‘Nani’ Roma and co-driver Michel Périn, Russian driver Leonid Novitskiy and co-driver Konstantin Zhiltsov, and Polish driver Krzysztof Holowczyc with co-driver Filipe Palmeiro.

Source: MINI

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

Yawn, yet more BMW ridiculousness - when will they drop the Mini name and own up to duping us all? Hell, it's wider, longer and 1.5x the weight of the old Maxi now and this rally version bears the usual similarity to the original as any other rally car (unlike the original Rally-ing Minis)


So what?

The current VW Polo is actually bigger and heavier than the original VW Golf, and that's not worth losing sleep over either.

Keith Reeder

At least the original Polo & Golf were made by VW. Imagine Chrysler buying out the VW name and then making a car that was essentially a Lacetti with a Golf-like grill; slapping a VW badge on it; making a 4-wheel drive estate version and then sitting back and watching all the drones buy the 'latest Golf'. I'm not concerned about the weight, it's the fact it's a BMW in disguise and being sold based on the memory of the Issigonis design.


Keith Reeder, it SHOULD be losing you some sleep that the average car is getting so bloated. Every pound of additional weight the average car carries, just brings forward the day that the oil runs out.

The car companies employ huge numbers of engineers, and at least some of the m must be driving their FEA CAD machines to optimise strength-to-weight? My depressing conclusion is thet the majority are wotrking out how many extra electric-powered cup-holders they can convince the customer he needs...


@Keith Reeder,

The Polo being longer and heavier than the original Golf is one thing. The Polo is still, true to it's roots, a low entrypoint into VW ownership (incidentally it was originally designed as an Audi not a Volkswagen).

The real Mini was at an even lower point of the market- a cheap entry level car that was at the time the smallest 'real' car you could buy that could accommodate four adults (albeit not in great comfort but then it was 1959). It had exceptionally good packaging, great fuel economy and excellent handling- the latter is the only quality that it shares with the BMW PseudoMini.

Whilst the basic BMW Mini could pass as the original's uglier offspring (if you squint a bit, and pose it further back so that it's bloated dimensions are less apparent), the Countryman, like so many PseudoMini variants, takes barrel scraping to a new low, being vastly oversized for something pretending to be a small car, yet still horribly poorly packaged, with an ugly, cluttered and pointlessly 'retro' interior.

And despite it's pretended British heritage, the Countryman isn't even built in Britain.

How is this 3 litre distended Chelsea Tractor on stilts even remotely a Mini?


I think it is the maximum fun one can get from a Mini Cooper. :)

It is not that different from the Smart Dakar racer? http://www.autoblog.com/2012/12/28/meet-the-smart-fortwo-that-should-be-competing-in-the-2013-dakar/

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