Mini will contest next year's Dakar with an All4 Racing developed and run by the Monster Energy X-Raid team. The car, which has been built in just 90 days, will be driven by Dakar expert Guerlain Chicherit. The project was first discussed in the summer of 2009, when X-Raid team director Sven Quandt began looking at the feasibility of the project.
Quandt then held initial discussions with automotive engineering and manufacturing company Magna Steyr and BMW to see whether the new model was a realistic replacement for the BMW X3 CC, which has earned the team three successive FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rally titles since 2008.
Construction of the new Mini All4 Racing cross-country rally car began in November and has continued into December. The car will be put through a first series of tests in France next week. It will then be transported by airfreight to South America for final preparations for scrutineering in Buenos Aires at the end of the month.
The Mini will be powered by a variable twin-turbo diesel engine that is fitted to the 2011-specification BMW X3 CC and built in Steyr, the same place as the Mini and BMW diesel engines are made. The power unit delivers in the region of 315hp and 710Nm of torque. This is an increase compared to the output of the 2010-specification BMW X3 CCs used on the Dakar Rally to seal fourth and fifth places last January.
"This is a major development in cross-country rallying and something of which we are very excited," admitted Quandt. "There has been a very short time between the decision to go ahead and the roll out for the next Dakar, but we are confident that the new Mini All4 Racing will be competitive out of the box.
"Compared to the BMW X3CC, the Mini will be characterized by improved handling as the overall length is shorter and it is lower. We have also been able to improve on many other smaller details, such as the relocation of smaller components to lower the center of gravity."
The Mini benefits from larger air intakes, a one-piece bonnet and a revised and improved ventilation system using a front air intake and a roof intake. Visibility inside the Mini All4 Racing is not on a par with the BMW X3 CC and entry and exit of the vehicle for the occupants is slightly more difficult, but Quandt is delighted with general improvements nonetheless.
The new Mini All4 Racing will form part of X-Raid's seven-car Dakar team – the largest ever entered by a team in the 33-year history of the world's most famous off-road rally – and the third of three vehicles running on the event under the Monster Energy X-Raid Team banner.
Dakar starts in Buenos Aires on New Year's Day and finishes in the Argentine capital on Sunday, Jan. 16.