Raphael Orlove Drives Dakar-Winning Mini In The Desert: Video
For the uninitiated, here’s a bit of background info: the Dakar rally raid is quite simply one of the most punishing race events in the world. It’s an ultra-long off-road event that sees pros and amateurs alike blasting across over 5,000 miles of some of the roughest terrain Mother Nature can muster. Vehicle classes encompass cars, ATVs, bikes, and enormous heavy-duty trucks. To even finish is considered a gigantic accomplishment, but the Mini ALL4 Racing team has taken gold in the car category four years running. “Capable” doesn’t even come close to describing the abilities of this world eater, but that didn’t stop Jalopnik’s Raphael Orlove from getting it stuck in the middle of the UAE desert.
Of course, I mean no offense towards our comrades in gasoline, but still, it is a bit humorous, which is a point not lost in the video: “BMW gave me every preparation to drive this thing,” Orlove says. “They flew me out to Dubai, they built the simplest, easiest Dakar winner in modern history, they gave me as much instruction as possible, and access to some of the best engineers and drivers in the world. But look, sometimes you’re shifting down from flat-out in fifth gear on the desert floor into the dunes, and you crest a rise, and you go to downshift, and you pull for fourth gear instead of push for second. So the engine bogged and the wheels sunk and we were stuck.”
No worries, Orlove, it happens to the best of us. Next time, though, make sure to bring an extra water bottle. You know, just in case.
This race-prepped Mini may hold similar lines to its road-going siblings, but call it cute and it’ll crawl over you like just another stubborn rock. The bodywork is made from carbon fiber, which helps shed some of the weight gained from all the skid guards and impact-protector plates mounted underneath. The interior is outfitted with a mobile service station to fix whatever might break out in the wild, while the suspension components include dual remote-reservoir Reiger racing shocks for a lifted stance and lots of travel. Under the hood is a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six diesel enginewith up to 800 pound-feet of torque. Routing power to all four wheels is a Sadev six-speed transmission.
Read our full review here.