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Mini Thinks Dakar 2019 Is Payback Time

Mini Thinks Dakar 2019 Is Payback Time

The X-Raid Mini team has last won the Dakar Rally in 2015 before Peugeot took over

The factory-backed Mini X-Raid team returns to the Dakar rally with both the Mini All4 Racing model loosely based on the Countryman and the two-wheel-drive Transformers-esque Mini John Cooper Works Buggy. Their aim? To win. The main hurdle? Japanese manufacturer Toyota and its Hilux trucks.

Believe it or not, Mini has made quite a name for itself in the world of rally raid in the past few years. The X-Raid team that manages the BMW-funded program has won the event four years in a row between 2012 and 2015 before Peugeot’s breakthrough win in 2016 followed by a Toyota success in 2017 and a return to form for Peugeot last year.

Now, Mini’s assault will be massive with a total of five all-wheel-drive Minis as well as three two-wheel-drive Mini buggies all aiming for that coveted first spot in the overall classification. They’ve surely got the driving talent needed to win this bigger-than-life event with Carlos Sainz, Stephane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres all aboard, but can they dodge all the curveballs that the rally throws at its competitors? The rally starts in merely two days, and it’s crunch time!

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2018 Mini John Cooper Works Rally And Buggy

2018 Mini John Cooper Works Rally And Buggy

A two-pronged attack from the Dakar champs

As is tradition, the world of motor sport is looking to kick off 2018 with the infamous Dakar Rally, one of the most brutal, unforgiving, car-breaking, will-sapping events ever conceived. The Dakar heads into its 40th running this year, and its tenth stint in South America after the move across the Atlantic in 2009, and once again, competitors will do battle over a variety of terrain, from sand, to tarmac, to boulder fields, to 13,000-foot mountain passes. With so much tough terrain and such insane distances to cover, simply completing the Dakar is considered a major accomplishment. However, X-raid and Mini aren’t looking to just reach the finish line - they wanna win. Thus far, the collaborative effort has yielded four consecutive victories between 2012 and 2015, with the most recent outing in 2017 snagging sixth overall thanks to the efforts of Argentinian driver Orlando Terranova. Now, X-raid and Mini are gearing up for a fresh approach that includes the brand-new RWD Mini John Cooper Works Buggy. Created to take advantage of certain regulations to bolster 2WD competition, the Buggy will race alongside the more traditional Countryman-based 4WD Mini John Cooper Works Rally for a two-pronged approach to tackling the Dakar.

Fittingly, both vehicles were presented in Paris prior to their competition debut. The Buggy is a particularly exciting new venture for the Germany-based X-raid, which for the past 15 years has focused primarily on 4WD competition vehicles. However, with an experienced roster of drivers ready to take the controls, plus the proven Mini Rally to bolster the ranks, the team is feeling good about its chances. Read on for details on what makes these machines tick.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mini John Cooper Works Rally.

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2015 MINI ALL4 Racing

2015 MINI ALL4 Racing

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.

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MINI Pulls Out of the WRC but Has Achieved Homologation

The Mini Portugal team, along with its WRC partner, Prodrive, actually started off pretty well in the 2012 WRC season, but things turned sour for the MINI rally team following its breakup with said partner. Following the March split, Mini never reached the podium again. Though the 2012 season is not quite finished, Mini has announced that it will withdraw from the World Rally Championship following this season.

In all honesty this really comes as no surprise, as Mini is thought to have only raced as a factory sponsored brand this year to get WRC homologation. Why is that so important? Well, this means that Mini now can sell its rally cars to private racing companies, make profit, and have zero racing overhead. This was all backed up by Dr. Kay Segler’s statement “By the end of the season WRC Team Mini Portugal will have competed in every rally in 2012. As such, in accordance with FIA regulations, we will have achieved the WRC homologation for the Mini John Cooper Works.” Well, don’t make it too obvious that you played the system, fine Doctor…

In all honesty, this is just one of the necessary evils of the racing world, as car manufacturers simply want all of the free advertising at these events without any of the corporate responsibilities. So in all honesty, we can’t fault Mini for its obvious using the rather loose WRC homologation rules.

With the Mini John Cooper Works WRC car pumping a wild 300 horsepower and 400 Nm (295 pound-feet) of torque from its little 1.6-liter Bimmer engine, we doubt that MINI will have any issues selling it to private teams. Since 2011, the rally Mini Portugal team made it to the podium three times and had its biggest success in the January 2012 running of the Monte Carlo Rally when it finished 2nd.

We’ll keep an eye out to see if any private teams select Mini as its WRC car.

Click past the jump to read Mini’s presser.

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Mini Countryman will enter World Rally Championship in 2011

Mini Countryman will enter World Rally Championship in 2011

Mini is an interesting little car brand. The car is fantastic, but the following the vehicle has is far more impressive than the vehicle itself. Owners of Minis practically have their own club even traveling the length of the U.S. together for charity. Mini owners are proud of their bitesize vehicles and now they can add another tally to the Mini side.

The 2011 World Rally Championship will receive another participant this year and for many years to come as the Mini Countryman WRC takes its place among the other racers. Mini will not participate in all of the races in 2011, but come 2012, they will take in every race offered by the WRC.

Having been worked on since early 2009 by ProDrive, the Countryman WRC complies with the FIA’s Super2000 regulations and will feature a 1.6L four cylinder turbo charged engine from BMW Motorsport. Its first test will occur in Fall 2010.

Press release after the jump.

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Video: Recapping the MINI vs Porsche tussle at Road Atlanta

This whole MINI vs. Porsche "race" took so many twists and turns, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep tabs on everything that has gone on before, during, and - as it turns out - after the race.

We don’t know what’s keeping MINI from moving on after Porsche squeaked out a win at the former’s own overly-hyped race, but now we have a new video courtesy of the losing side chronicling the entire proceedings. Heck, they even managed to get Joe Rogan of Fear Factor and UFC fame to do the hosting for the shindig.

So, consider this the swan song of this whole MINI-Porsche saga, or at least until MINI USA president Jim McDowell lives up to his word and sports that ’Porsche Beat Us’ t-shirt he promised he’d wear should Porsche come out on top.

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Mini gets its pants kicked by the 911

Mini gets its pants kicked by the 911

In one of the most over-hyped races of this century, the new Porsche 911 beat the pants off of the Mini Cooper at Road Atlanta.

The race was talked about on automotive websites all across the United States and it even brought in a Korean company, Hyundai, who offered to step in for Porsche if the German automaker didn’t feel up to the task.

Mini had created a small circuit inside Road Atlanta that was designed to help the Mini and hold back the power of the 911, but it didn’t work. The 911 beat the Mini by two seconds and although that doesn’t sound like much, two seconds is years on a small road course.

Mini is pointing to the price difference between the two, which was around $38,000 a second, but it was clear that the extra money was well spent. If you want a car that is faster than the Mini, buy a Porsche.

Maybe Mini should call up Hyundai and race them, it seems they would stand a better chance.

Hit the jump for two more videos of the race.

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MINI to bring a Porsche 911 Carrera S to Road Atlanta with driver still to be determined

MINI to bring a Porsche 911 Carrera S to Road Atlanta with driver still to be determined

MINI’s challenge of Porsche to a race at Road Atlanta is technically supposed to happen in a day’s time, but it’s far more complicated given that Porsche has yet to answer MINI’s invites, not the least of which include a number of hilarious videos courtesy of MINI USA’s big boss Jim McDowell, a parody of Rocky IV, an online petition, and even a flying a private plane with a banner on it over Porsche’s US headquarters in Atlanta.

So with a race set to take place without an opponent yet, MINI has gone into complete overdrive in luring Porsche into accepting their challenge. The latest twist in this oddball saga has MINI offering about 400 people to watch the whole spectacle and they’re bringing in their own fully-spec’d Porsche 911 Carrera S. The only problem is, Mini doesn’t know who they can get to drive that Porsche and also, what does Porsche think of having one of their signature models in a MINI event with no company sanction whatsoever. Can you say hissy fit?

We don’t know what’s going to come out of this, but we do know that fireworks will fly. That’s how MINI’s done it before and there’s no doubt in our minds that it’s how they will do it again. We are sure they’ve got something planned that’s going to take Porsche and everybody else by surprise.

Then again, Porsche should just accept the challenge, throttle MINI at the race, and get it over with. Right?

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Hyundai steps in the ring for Porsche, ready to take on Mini

Hyundai steps in the ring for Porsche, ready to take on Mini

Sorry Porsche, you had your chance, now it’s Hyundai’s turn. The Korean automaker has just stepped up to stand in for Porsche, offering to take on Mini at Road Atlanta.

Hyundai has released a trash-talking video to Mini USA head Jim McDowell that says they are eager to bring the Genesis Coupe to Atlanta raceway next month. The race won’t take place in June like Mini planned because Hyundai racing driver Rhys Millen is getting ready to climb a mountain, so the Korean automaker is proposing a race in July.

As Hyundai spokesman Dan Bedore tells Autoblog, "Since we launched the Genesis Coupe, we’ve always said that we’ll take on all-comers when it comes to comparison tests. And we’ve had some experience on the racetrack at Road Atlanta. We’d be happy to meet Mini on the race track."

This is an interesting move by Hyundai, who is taking the blow for Porsche and that takes some serious…you know. Having driven the Genesis Coupe we have to hope it’s the manual because the automatic is seriously flawed.

So, will Mini step up to the challenge? An all out race between a Mini Cooper S and the Hyundai Genesis Coupe sounds pretty good to us.

Video after the jump.

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Video: Porsche turns down MINI challenge

Video: Porsche turns down MINI challenge

Porsche heard MINI’s challenge loud and clear and the Stuttgart-based automaker has turned it down. Whether it’s a case of taking the high road or a fear of being exposed - depends on which side of the fence you’re on - Porsche gave a pretty quick and firm reply to MINI USA president Jim McDowell’s challenge of having a MINI Cooper S take on a Porsche 911 Carrera S in some sort of racing rumble at Road Atlanta.

Porsche boss Detlev Von Platen only had to say a few words to get his point across. "While your challenge seems like a fun and lighthearted campaign, we’ll stick to racing the way we have over the decades," he said. "We welcome you at Sebring, Le Mans, Daytona or any other sanctioned race where there is more at stake than T-shirts and valet parking spaces."

In the words of today’s generation, "Porsche FTW!

Detlev Von Platen’s letter to Jim McDowell after the jump

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MINI crashes through barrier at 2010 Ipswich 300

MINI crashes through barrier at 2010 Ipswich 300

Spectators were stunned as a MINI Cooper S lost control all of a sudden on the 6th turn of the final lap of the 2010 Ipswich 300 event at the Queensland Raceway. The driver, Kain Magro, couldn’t pinpoint what caused him to lose control, but the car ended up rolling towards and ultimately barreling over the protective barrier that stood between the track and the fans. Thankfully, only two spectators were taken to the hospital and they were released with no serious injuries.

This was 23-year-old Magro’s first time competing at the Ipswich event and was doing so alongside his brother, John Magro who stated that both men will be returning to the racetrack soon. Miraculously, Kain Magro was able to walk away from the Mini completely unharmed even though the video shown above will demonstrate a dramatic crash that shows the car rolling and flipping as if it were a piece of paper getting blown away by a breeze.
The fact that no one was seriously injured during this catastrophe is an absolute miracle in itself.

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Mini racing school for mother in laws


Just because it’s the English automaker’s 50th birthday and because we like to point out our friends we decided to bring you this very interesting look on a different kind of racing school. Fellow Southern Automotive Media Association Member and professional racecar driver Bill Adam was on hand to teach a group of the Card and Driver editorial staff’s in-laws in a group of Mini Clubman Sports. Now teaching a group of grannies about the finer points of turning in and hitting the apex is a challenge in and of itself. This is especially true when you consider that the pupils come from a group that is better known for causing traffic than avoiding it. But the elderly women did surprisingly well, and at the same time gained a little bit of appreciation for what their son-in-laws do for a living. Thanks to the trio of talented instructors, they went from a group of nervous Nancys to real racing pros, by the end of the day they were even popping bottles like Rubens did this past Sunday at the European Grand Prix.

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MINI Cooper S Works GP.

MINI Cooper S Works GP.

Mini get the cooper works.

Super mini is no car to be toyed with.

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