From 5-18 January 2014, MINI will be lined up with eleven MINI ALL4 Racing, run by the X-raid team, at the Rally Dakar. In 2012 and 2013 the MINI ALL4 Racing was the car to beat at the toughest marathon rally in the world. Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel won the most recent two Dakar editions at the wheel of the MINI ALL4 Racing of the Monster Energy X-raid Team.
“Motorsport is in the DNA of MINI. Since its birth in the late 1950s, the MINI brand has been intrinsically associated with motorsport”, says Jochen Goller, Senior Vice President MINI. It was then that John Cooper (GB) saw the basis for a promising sports car and started to modify the classic Mini to be entered in motorsports.
In 1959, the Mini won the Mille Miglia national rally. In the 1960s, Mini won the Monte Carlo Rally three times, and nearly a fourth. Nowadays, the name John Cooper is still associated with the sporting legend of the MINI brand through the John Cooper Works range, which represents the sporty image of the brand with exclusive models and special performance accessories.
Goller continues: “That is also why the ‘John Cooper Works’ brand is associated with every sporting event the MINI competes in. This is the first reason why MINI is competing in Dakar. The second reason lies in the core values of MINI: excitement and agility – which are very much part of motorsport and consistent with the image of the Dakar. By winning the 2012 and 2013 Rally Dakar, MINI – like in the 1960s – has been able to make possible what seemingly was impossible, small against large, David versus Goliath. The last reason is the Dakar itself. The rally has become a fantastic communication channel thanks to its huge media interest which generates a worldwide visibility. We want to anchor the MINI and John Cooper Works brands as well as the MINI performance DNA among the enthusiastic followers of the Dakar.”
The 2014 Rally Dakar is another milestone in the history of MINI at the toughest endurance rally in the world. Never before have more MINI ALL4 Racing cars been lined up at the Dakar than at its 36th edition: a total of eleven will compete for the victory. “I think we are going in the right direction”, says Stéphane Peterhansel. “I won the last two rallies, but it does not mean anything for the next event, as each rally is new chapter.”
In 2011, the MINI ALL4 Racing made its debut at the legendary Rally Dakar. “Entering a compact off-road vehicle in an endurance race held under the toughest possible conditions, was the challenge we wanted to master,” says Goller. Based on the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman, the MINI ALL4 Racing immediately proved it was competitive and winning the hearts of the fans from the word go.
Just one year later, a total of five MINI ALL4 Racing cars lined up at the Dakar. Says Goller: “With a combination of power, reliability and efficiency, as well as the most successful Dakar competitor of all time behind the wheel, the MINI brand made the big breakthrough on only its second appearance: the MINI ALL4 Racing and Stéphane Peterhansel won the 2012 Rally Dakar.” MINI made its third appearance on the Dakar stage in January 2013 – once again with five MINI ALL4 Racing cars – and successfully defended its title at the first attempt.
The MINI ALL4 Racing and the X-raid Team put in strong performances by winning two important events before the 2014 Dakar: the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup drivers’ title with Poland’s Krzysztof Holowczyc and the challenging OiLibya Rally of Morocco with the Argentinean Orlando Terranova, both at the wheels of a MINI ALL4 Racing. Says Goller: “The X-raid Team has done an excellent job by continuing the fine tuning of the car, and the MINI ALL4 Racing seems to be ready for the Dakar again. I am quite confident we will achieve good team result and I hope to successfully defend the title in South America.”