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MINI Buggy aiming for Dakar 2018 win. Image by MINI.

MINI Buggy aiming for Dakar 2018 win
MINI and X-Raid to compete in gruelling Dakar with two- and four-wheel drive machines.
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What's all this about?

In January, it's the 40th running of the Dakar Rally, and MINI is entering two types of rally raid vehicles in the event. This will be the tenth edition of the long-distance, off-road race on the continent of South America, too, and in 2018, the competitors will line up in Lima, Peru, on January 6. They will then race through sand dunes, deserts, rock and boulder fields, and vertiginous mountain roads - rising to a height of 4,000 metres, or 13,123 feet - in Andean Bolivia and Argentina, before finishing in the city of Cordoba on January 20. Which must be why MINI has decided to enter not one, but two machines into the rally.

Eh? What do you mean?

MINI and its German motorsport partner X-Raid Team, which took four consecutive Dakar victories between 2012 and 2015, is aiming to capitalise on a set of Dakar rules which give certain technical advantages to two-wheel-drive machines. So, its proven MINI John Cooper Works Rally all-wheel drive entrant will be joined by a rear-wheel drive John Cooper Works Buggy.

This latter machine has a tubular steel-frame chassis with a specially-designed carbon fibre-reinforced plastic and Kevlar body, the buggy-look exterior designed in close co-operation with MINI Design and said to be aerodynamically optimised. The vehicle has already undergone an intensive test programme during recent months, including in places like Morocco and Hungary. Both it and the JCW Rally are powered by a 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel, developing a healthy 340hp and a mammoth 800Nm to back it up.

So what does the team behind the twin MINIs say about all this?

Sven Quandt, team manager of X-Raid, said: "This has been the biggest project in our company's history so far and we have worked extremely hard at it. During the testing period, the Buggy never had to stop once due to a technical problem, which is really quite remarkable. But, despite all the euphoria, we must definitely not forget the MINI John Cooper Works Rally. There are tracks and types of terrain where an all-wheel drive has advantages. What is more, our car is extremely reliable."

Who will drive the cars entered by MINI and X-Raid?

In total, MINI and X-Raid will enter seven cars into the Dakar 2018, with three JCW Buggies piloted by Mikko Hirvonen (Finland), Bryce Menzies (USA) and Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Saudi Arabia). Driving the four JCW Rally MINIs are Orlando Terranova (Argentina), Jakub Przygonski (Poland), Joan 'Nani' Roma (Spain) and Boris Garafulic (Chile).

Matt Robinson - 21 Nov 2017

2018 MINI Dakar racers. Image by MINI.2018 MINI Dakar racers. Image by MINI.2018 MINI Dakar racers. Image by MINI.2018 MINI Dakar racers. Image by MINI.2018 MINI Dakar racers. Image by MINI.

2018 MINI Dakar racers. Image by MINI.2018 MINI Dakar racers. Image by MINI.2018 MINI Dakar racers. Image by MINI.2018 MINI Dakar racers. Image by MINI.2018 MINI Dakar racers. Image by MINI.    - MINI road tests
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