Before we go on to explain exactly how significant of a victory this is for MINI Motorsports we will amuse you with a short “let’s get the facts straight” history lesson. The Dakar Rally or “The Paris-Dakar” as most still call it, isn’t a rally and has absolutely nothing to do with Dakar – at least not anymore. The terrain that competitors are faced with is miles tougher than what you’d expect from a rally which means the correct term of this type of racing is “off-road endurance race.” And even though the rally typically started in Paris, France and ended in Dakar, Senegal, political and terrorist tensions in various places throughout Africa has sent the rally to South America.
This neatly takes us to this year’s Dakar Rally which started on the East Coast of Argentina in a place called Mar del Plata. The competitors, which span over three classes, Motorcycle, Car (T1, T2, and open), and Truck (T4 and T5 Support), drove horizontally through South America towards Copiapo in Chile and then up along the West Coast towards Lima, Peru. It’s a drive so treacherous and grueling that many teams only aim to complete the journey, let alone finish in a respectable position. The cars, trucks, and bikes that compete are tough as nails and take the ultimate beating as they speed through every type of terrain imaginable.
Looking at results of the past 15 years it’s been nothing but full-size, heavily modified four-wheel drives that have won the Dakar Rally. The utilitarian Mitsubishi Pajero and grand Volkswagen Touareg stand out as repeat winners. While both of these competitors were modified beyond recognition, it’s nothing short of staggering that the largely unmodified looking MINI All4 Racing took this year’s first place. The result was a direct combination of fantastic driving from the X-Raid Team drivers Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret, relentless efforts from the support crews, and a winning combination of speed, reliability, and handling brought to the table by the MINI Countryman ALL4 Racing.
Enjoy the video below which does a neat job of recapping the spirit of the Dakar and the moment which may very well be the greatest moment in MINI’s Motorsport history since the dominant 1960′s.