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YOU HAVE TO DRIVE LIKE YOU MEAN IT TO TAKE THE PODIUM AT THE WORLDS TOUGHEST RALLY.
The Dakar Rally is a race unlike any other. The phrase “not for the faint hearted” is to understate its white-knuckle, pinned throttle, ferocious terrain encompassing intensity, by the power of one hundred.
What began as the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1978 is considered by the sport to be the most gruelling race on the planet. Its extreme nature, daring backdrops and brutal stages, has the capacity to bring world-beating professionals to their knees.
It was conceived by French racer Thierry Sabine, who was inspired by a fateful mishap, losing his way racing through the deserts of Tenere, Libya. In trying to navigate back to the official course, he became convinced that the terrain would make the ultimate rally raid setting for racers. Rally raiding or cross-country rallying requires racers to travel off-road over several days, often covering up to 900 K.
The perilous courses are made more extreme as trail notes aren’t issued until the night before each leg. This means drivers and co-drivers can’t scan or reconnaissance the myriad pitfalls of the next sections to be covered. Dakar glory means traversing on wheels some of the most challenging terrain on earth. The routes - because of unrest in the region now run mostly in South America - encompass eye-watering climbs to the top of near-vertical escarpments, ridges of unstable sand dunes with meter-deep drops at either side and extreme temperatures ranging from sub zero to parching heat.
Just getting through the event is an achievement and making it to the podium is any drive teams dream. Of the very first Dakar race from the 182 racers who started out only 74 vehicles actually crossed the finish line.
When MINI began work on the MINI ALL4 Racing in 2010 they knew the car would have every aspect of it, nuts, bolts and metal tested to the max. Taking the MINI Countryman as a starting point, the MINI ALL4 Racing is a collaboration with dedicated, rally-car builders – the Frankfurt based X-Raid team.
The resultant MINI ALL4 Racing has been subjected to rigorous testing in the extremes of the Moroccan desert. It’s capable of reaching over 130 mph across sand, scree and rock. The drive itself has been designed to be as non fatiguing as possible on the drivers - with power steering, supersized suspension and deep bucket seats - allowing them to endure the often 12 hour days.
MINI ALL4 Racing ran their first Dakar in 2011 but it was 2012 that showcased just what the newbie racecar was capable of. Stéphane Peterhansel AKA “Mr Dakar” joined the team in search of a 10th trip to the podium. Although he trailed his teammates for several stages, he wasn’t going to let go of the winning sash and seized the inaugural title for MINI ALL4 Racing. MINI ALL4 Racing truly underlined their cars capability by also claiming second place with Nani Roma at the wheel – and a further three top ten spots. Now that’s how to really make your mark at Dakar!
The spectacular Mini Cooper rally victories of the 1960s have shown that agile handling can always beat sheer size. To honour John Cooper's vision, the thoroughbreds of today's MINI range bear the name John Cooper Works.
MINI still remains true to its origins in rallying as well. Together with its long-term motorsport partner X-raid, of Germany, the success it has enjoyed has proven that the MINI brand is more than up to facing the most demanding of cross-country challenges. From 2012 to 2015, MINI ALL4 Racing won the Dakar four times in a row. And the MINI John Cooper Works Rally car was introduced right on time for 2017 Dakar Rally.
Based on the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman, the completely new model was specially designed for cross-country rallying, the FIA World Cup, the legendary Dakar Rally, and the Silk Way Rally – underscoring MINI's commitment to rallying.
Furthermore, Dakar 2018 was the world stage for the race debut of the all-new MINI John Cooper Works Buggy. This exciting addition to the MINI Motorsport line-up was especially developed to compete in the 2-wheel drive (4x2) category – alongside the MINI John Cooper Works Rally in the 4-wheel drive (4x4) class.