A total of eight MINI ALL4 Racing cars will compete in one of the longest and most challenging off-road events in the world: the Dakar Rally.

Originally hosted in 1979, the annual event is classified as a “rally raid” — that is, a long distance, cross-country marathon run held over the course of several days. The Dakar is composed of hundreds of racers in a variety of classes wielding motorcycles, quads, trucks, and cars. It’s a grueling, two-week journey over thousands of miles of rough terrain; an epic test of both mechanical fortitude and human will. Simply finishing the event is a monumental accomplishment.

The original event was a race between Paris, France, and Dakar, Senegal, but organizers moved to South America in 2009 citing security concerns. However, the new location is no less punishing, as the upcoming rally will cover some 9,000 kilometers of dunes, mud, sand, rocks, gravel, and extreme altitudes across Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia.

If you think this sounds like the wrong event for a MINI, you’re incorrect. High-performance versions of the plucky vehicle have a streak going with three consecutive victories between 2012 and 2014. For the 2015 event taking place in early January, a total of eight MINI entrants will attempt to maintain the championship.

“Even with the most outstanding preparation, the Dakar remains a tremendous adventure with unforeseeable challenges and highly demanding tasks that all participants will have to master in order to succeed,” said Jochen Goller, Senior Vice President at MINI, in a press release. “With this in mind, we are more than pleased to enter the 2015 Dakar Rally with a professional, experienced team in our strategic partners of the X-raid Team, a highly competitive driver line-up and a proven winner in the Mini ALL4 Racing.”

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 MINI ALL4 Racing.

  • 2015 MINI ALL4 Racing
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    5 sec. (Est.)
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    55000 (Est.)
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MINI’s Racing Background

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The Mini has been around, in one form or another, since 1959, and in the staggering 55 years since it was first introduced, this nippy little vehicle has been an icon for compact motoring, often copied but never replicated.

Originally offered as a two-door, front-wheel-drive space-saving novelty, the Mini’s appeal was in the enormous number of passengers and luggage it could carry, despite its diminutive road presence. During the 60s, the Mini’s popularity skyrocketed, with 1.19 million examples of the Mk 1 produced.

As proof positive that the Mini is a blast to drive, the marque enjoyed plenty of racing success, especially when connected to the name John Cooper. With a short wheel base and very low weight, racing “Cooper” versions of the Mini were quick to appear on podiums at numerous racing events throughout the world, including the high-profile Monte Carlo rally.

At the turn of the century, when the marque was sold to BMW after seven generations, the MINI (now capitalized) became less about practicality, and more about making a fashion statement. However, there’s no question that the car’s image as a quick, small, British-style auto remains.

Now, as a continuation of it’s competition heritage, the MINI is once again dominating the world of off-road racing, this time at the Dakar Rally.


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Taking the trophy for Most Badass MINI Ever Made, the Dakar ALL4 Racing has transformed from adorable handbag accessory to dirt-churning monster. Total height is nearly 6.5 feet, and there are enough skid guards and impact-protection pieces to survive a full-frontal from a tank shell.

It may look like a MINI, but all those body panels are actually carbon fiber. There’s also an air scoop on the roof to keep the MINI’s intrepid occupants from cooking out in the hot desert sun. Watching this thing smash through the dunes is truly an awesome sight to behold.


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Inside, there are plenty of spares and tools to provide a mobile workshop should something break mid race. Although the body components are composite, all that solid off-roading stuff adds plenty of weight- this thing weighs nearly two and a quarter tons. MINI indeed.

Drivetrain & Suspension

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While each race car is based on the MINI Countryman, few stock parts remain. According to its website, German-based racing company X-raid starts with a tubular frame, then adds enormous dampers to give the MINI enough ground clearance to roll over a small mountain. Power comes from a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel from BMW that puts 320 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque through a Sadev six-speed transmission.

The chunky tires are from Michelin and measure in at 245/80/16.


Toyota Hilux

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I know what you’re thinking, "how is a Hilux part of the car class? Shouldn’t it run with the trucks?" Well, check out the leading competitor of the truck class, the Kamaz, and you’ll see the distinction.

Anyway, the stock version of the Hilux already comes from the factory with some pretty good off-roading traits, like a high stance, stable ride and capable handling, all of which are enhanced on the racing version. Although the Hilux midsize pickup is known for bulletproof reliability, it faced some suspension issues last year, proving just how tough the Dakar can be. But don’t put it out of the running: the Hilux is a stout competitor in a variety of off-roading events, and should keep pace with the dominant MINI in the wilderness of South America.

Peugeot 2008 DKR

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In 2010, WRC champ Carlos Sainz took a Dakar win in a VW Touareg. This year, he returns to drive this beastly Peugeot.

It’s rear-wheel-drive, which sounds like a disadvantage until you find out that minimum weight is lower for two-wheel-drive vehicles. There’s also the reliability issue, as four-wheel-drive transmissions contain far more breakable parts. With 340 horsepower on tap, a mile of suspension travel, and a world champion at the wheel, things look good for Peugeot.


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With several iterations of the enormously capable ALL4 Racing MINI taking up the Dakar challenge, the odds are looking good for a fourth consecutive win. However, victory is by no means assured. The Dakar Rally can be quite treacherous, and a winner is only made one flying rock at a time. Anything can happen.

  • Leave it
    • Can’t buy it or drive it
    • Still odd to see a MINI cresting massive sand dunes

2015 MINI Countryman

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BMW’s vision of the MINI is a clear diversion from the original concept. While the British variety was small, economical, and fun, the Germans seem determined to fit the marque into ever-expanding roles, both functionally and dimensionally. First introduced to the US market in 2011, the crossover Countryman model was the first MINI to come with all-wheel-drive. This larger, heavier vehicle was derided by many as the tipping point for MINI, the point at which BMW lost its way with regards to the inherent philosophy of what makes a MINI a MINI. However, consumers still loved it, making the Countryman one of MINI’s top performers in sales. The 1.6-liter turbo four makes 208 horsepower, posting a 0-to-60 time of 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 135 mph. Inside, there’s plenty of room, with 42.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity available after folding down the rear seats. However, the Countryman is quite expensive, with base models starting at $26,000 and the top-range JCW model running around $35,000. However, that premium price makes sense when considering the prestige marque adorning the rear hatch.

Jonathan Lopez
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Press Release

Less than two months ahead of the start of the 2015 Dakar Rally (3-17 January) X-raid, supported by MINI, has revealed its line-up for the 37th edition of the world’s most famous long-distance rally. A total of eight MINI ALL4 Racing with driver crews from ten countries will take on the ultimate motorsport adventure of the Dakar Rally. Defending Dakar champions Joan “Nani” Roma (ES) and co-driver Michel Périn (FR) will lead the Monster Energy Rally Raid Team while the experienced driver pairings Orlando Terranova (AR)/Bernardo “Ronnie” Graue (AR) and Krzysztof Holowczyc/Xavier Panseri (PL/FR) complete the line-up. There will also be five customer driver pairings in MINI ALL4 Racing cars built by the German-based X-raid GmbH.

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For the MINI brand the 2015 Dakar Rally is the next chapter of a unique success story which culminated in three consecutive Dakar victories as well as three titles in a row in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, both from 2012 to 2014. The 2015 Dakar promises to be the most demanding edition since the Dakar moved from Africa to South America in 2009.

“With its extremely demanding route and highly challenging racing conditions the Dakar Rally is not only a thrilling off-road event to millions of motorsport fans. It is also the ultimate test for drivers, teams and cars alike,” says Jochen Goller, Senior Vice President MINI. “Even with the most outstanding preparation, the Dakar remains a tremendous adventure with unforeseeable challenges and highly demanding tasks that all participants will have to master in order to succeed. With this in mind, we are more than pleased to enter the 2015 Dakar Rally with a professional, experienced team in our strategic partners of the X-raid Team, a highly competitive driver line-up and a proven winner in the MINI ALL4 Racing. For the past three Dakar Rallies the MINI ALL4 Racing has been the epitome of endurance, performance, reliability, agility and – last but not least – success. Further to this, with millions of fans around the globe watching the 2015 Dakar Rally, the immense international awareness provides the perfect stage to extend the MINI brand’s global reach.”

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With several new and reinstated competitive stages the Dakar will be another adventurous trip for both drivers and teams. From merciless gravel sections to the breathtaking heights of the Andes, from the sweltering heat of the Atacama desert to the tricky soft dunes the competitors are often making their way into the unknown, facing unforeseeable obstacles. This is what makes the Dakar Rally the ultimate motorsport challenge. Starting out in Buenos Aires (AR) and traveling in a great loop across the South American continent through Chile and Bolivia back to Argentina, more than 9,000 challenging kilometres is the task at hand for all competitors.

In 2015, Nani Roma and his experienced co-driver Michel Périn (FR), a four-time Dakar winner himself, are aiming to defend their title in their black and green MINI ALL4 Racing. “Winning the 2014 Dakar Rally in the MINI ALL4 Racing was very special to me because it came exactly ten years after my first Dakar victory,” says Roma who also won the 2004 Dakar Rally on a motorcycle. “The MINI ALL4 Racing has been strong from start to finish. It is the way we know the MINI to be: powerful, reliable and fast. It has been a key factor in making my most recent Dakar victory possible. It will be a pleasure to be back in the MINI as I am looking forward to the 2015 Dakar Rally ready to defend my title.”

Terranova who finished the 2014 Dakar fifth overall will be in the red and black MINI ALL4 Racing. “My goal, of course, is to win the Dakar but also to be the first competitor under the age of 40 to win it. It is a big challenge but the MINI ALL4 Racing is very strong. So I am confident that I can successfully reach my goals.” Holowczyc, winner of the 2013 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies in the MINI ALL4 Racing will be driving the blue and black MINI ALL4 Racing. Says Holowczyc: “I will do everything to be on the podium when the Dakar ends. The route will be much harder than in 2014, so the upcoming Dakar will be a new challenge which I am looking forward to accept.”

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No less than five additional X-raid-built MINI ALL4 Racing driven by customer crews round off the MINI lineup at the 2015 Dakar Rally.

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