Team X-raid will field five Minis in the upcoming Dakar Rally as part of a full-scale assault on the South American-based event.
The team – which will be among the favorites for victory in the January event thanks to the absence of Volkswagen – gave Mini All4 Racing its debut on the event last year. Unfortunately, Guerlain Chicherit destroyed his car after rolling while testing on a mid-rally rest day.
This time, the team will return with four more of the cars, with the lead entry to be driven by long-time X-raid driver Stephane Peterhansel, who has three Dakar wins in cars, plus six on motorcycles, to his name.
Former European Rally Champion Krzysztof Holowczyc, double FIA Cross Country World Cup winner Leonid Novitskiy and Portuguese driver Ricardo Leal dos Santos also remain with the team and join Peterhansel in moving into Minis from the BMW X3CCs they have driven for the past few years.
The fifth Mini will be driven by Spaniard Nani Roma, third in the 2006 Dakar. Roma competed in an X-raid BMW in the 2010 event, but drove for Nissan Team Overdrive last year.
In addition to the Minis, X-raid has kept a number of its BMWs and will field three of them on the Dakar for Boris Garafulic, Alexander Mironenko and Stephan Scott.
"We have got a truly competitive lineup and are very well prepared for the 2012 Dakar," said X-raid team manager Sven Quandt. "Stephane Peterhansel most definitely represents our spearhead but the other four Minis also are raced by extremely competitive drivers.
"It will be a difficult Dakar and the competition which will benefit from the modification of the regulations should not be underestimated, especially the Toyotas and Mitsubishis."
The 2012 Dakar Rally starts on Jan. 1 from Mar del Plata and takes in stages in Argentina, Chile and Peru before finishing in Lima on Jan. 15.