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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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Raphael Orlove Drives Dakar-Winning Mini In The Desert: Video

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.

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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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2013 Mini "No Limit" Pikes Peak

2013 Mini "No Limit" Pikes Peak

If Mini has no official entry for the 2013 Pikes Peak it does not mean there won’t be any Mini at the famous race. French driver Jean-Philippe Dayraut will enter the race in a Mini "No Limit" Pikes Peak race car.

Last year he completed the race in the Dacia Duster and it looks like this year it decided to give it another try. The car he will use this year it is pretty much identical to the model used last year, but for the 2013 race he opted for a Mini skin.

When compared to the model raced last year, the new Mini "No Limit" received a series of improvements. Dayraut and his team worked on making the car about 176 pounds lights, while the engine delivers a total of 900 horsepower.

The 2013 Pikes Peak is still more than one month away and we are hopping to get full details on this car until then.

Click past the jump for two presentation video of the car.

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Video: "Fastest MINI Race Car" Clocks in a Sub-9-Minute Lap at Nürburgring

Video: "Fastest MINI Race Car" Clocks in a Sub-9-Minute Lap at Nürburgring

Back in July, Mini announced that its John Cooper Works GP clocked in an impressive time of 8:23 at Nürburgring, giving due justice to its designation as the fastest production MINI ever.

We’re saying this because a recent video from Sport Auto shows test drive editor Christian Gebhardt getting behind the wheel of a Schirra Motoring MINI Cooper endurance race car, which proceeded to hit the Nurburgring and post a time of 8:58.

It’s an impressive time in its own right, but well short of what the JCW GP accomplished a few months ago. It smashed this time despite the fact that this endurance car comes packed with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that has been equipped with new pistons and high-performance camshafts, netting an output of 300 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque while achieving a 0-to-62 mph time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 160 mph.

As an endurance race car, the Shirra Motoring MINI Cooper was fitted with a new aerodynamic body kit that comes with a new front bumper, extended wheel arches and a prominent rear wing. The vehicle also carries a track-oriented suspension, high-performance brakes and a set of Michelin racing tires.

Regardless if it failed to sniff the JCW GP’s Nurburgring lap time, 8:58 is still a pretty awesome time any way you slice it.

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2012 Mini Countryman X-raid Dakar Edition

2012 Mini Countryman X-raid Dakar Edition

X-raid Team’s Mini ALL4 Racing cars are preparing to defend their crown at the upcoming Dakar Rally set to begin on January 5, 2013. However, these are not the cars set to enter the competition, but the cars that will assist the team through the 5,000 miles of desert through Peru, Argentina and Chile.

These very special Countryman have been equipped with a full range of original Mini Accessories, including: 18-inch light-alloy wheels with run-flat tires, mud flaps for the front and rear wheel arches, auxiliary headlights, and all-weather floor mats plus a protective load compartment cover made from hard-wearing PVC.

They will feature matte black paint combined with red roofs and racing stripes, and, of course, those Monster Energy logos. The black paint has been combined with silver-colored add-on parts for the front and rear apron, and side skirts.

Each car will also feature an off-road package that will help it deliver the best driving experience on any kind of road, be it gravel, desert tracks or mountain passes.

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2012 MINI Cooper B-Spec Racer

2012 MINI Cooper B-Spec Racer

Every automaker that has small car on their line-up has taken to modifying these models for B-Spec competition. We saw a couple of them introduced at the 2011 SEMA Auto Show - the Kia Rio and the Toyota Yaris come to mind - and now, it appears that one more will be making its debut at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show.
MINI USA, together with MINI of Charleston in South Carolina, have announced that a MINI Cooper Hardtop will formally enter B-Spec competition for the 2012 season.

"B-Spec racing is a great fit for MINI because the car is developed with racing heritage in mind and the races are run with vehicles very similar to those already sitting in the driveway,” said Jim McDowell, Vice President – MINI USA.

As race-spec models, the Cooper B-Spec will be completely overhauled to adhere to the standards and regulations of the B-Spec class. One of the most important modifications on the Cooper will be made on the interior, where almost all of the accessories and features of the road-going car will be stripped out and replaced by racing and safety equipment. Among the items that will be fitted into the Cooper B-Spec racer include a new Kirkey Intermediate Road Racing Seat, a Kirk Racing Roll Cage, Schroth Hybrid III Harnesses, Cage Nets, and Window Net.

As far as the engine is concerned, the Cooper B-Spec Racer will retain the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine of the road car, together with the 121-horsepower and 114 lb/ft of torque numbers it comes with. Moreover, the suspension set-up of the race car will feature KW V1 Coilover Struts and Shocks/ Vorshlag front camber plates while the wheel/tire set-up will comprise of a new set of 15" Kosei K1 aluminum alloy wheels wrapped in Hoosier SM6 tires.

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2011 MINI John Cooper Works Coupe Endurance

2011 MINI John Cooper Works Coupe Endurance

How long has it been since MINI first unveiled the John Cooper Works Coupe? Yeah, it was only a few days ago, but that hasn’t stopped the German automaker from making a race-spec version of their latest pride and joy to compete at the "SP 3T" class of the 2011 24 Hours of Nurburgring.

So, ladies and gentlemen, we’re presenting the MINI John Cooper Works Coupe Endurance Racer. Take a good look at it in all its shiny and sparkling glory because there’s a good chance that it’s going to be a little worse for wear after it attempts to run for 24 hours straight together with some of the fastest racers on the planet.

Apparently, MINI has taken itself to task in entering the 24-Hour race at Nurburgring in an attempt to take the next step in auto racing after years of plying its craft in the MINI Challenge sprint race. You might also recall that MINI is also entering the World Rally Championship this year with their sand and dust challenger, the Countryman WRC.

Something tells us that this won’t be the last time we’ll see MINI enter a completely new racing event that’s different from what they’re used to, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves. For now, we’re here to talk about their Nurburgring steed, the JCW Coupe Endurance.

More details on the MINI John Cooper Works Coupe Endurance after the jump.

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2012 Mini Countryman WRC

2012 Mini Countryman WRC

Mini has unveiled today at the Paris Auto Show their WRC model for the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship. However, in 2011 the new Mini WRC will only compete in six of 13 scheduled rounds, with only 2012 being a full season for them. The MINI WRC will be powered by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder Di turbo-charged engine that was derived from from Mini’s production models and improved upon by BMW Motorsport. The engine is then mated to an Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox. Likewise, because of its rallying objectives, the interior of the Countryman WRC has been fitted with a Prodrive-sourced roll cage.

Serving as the team’s principal will be Prodrive chief and ex rally driver David Richards. Together, he and Dirk Hollweg, Mini’s Motorsport head and David Wilcock, the team’s technical director, will form the team’s, shall we say, holy trinity.

Taking the reins for the team will be Kris Meeke and his co-pilot Paul Nagle, a team that took the Intercontinental Rally Challenge title back in 2009. The two will be joined in the team by Daniel Sordo and Carlos del Barrio.

"The Paris Motor Show is the perfect stage, on which to launch our MINI WRC,” says Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Sales and Marketing. “The response to our announcement that MINI will return to the world of rallying next year was very positive. The FIA World Rally Championship is the pinnacle of rallying, making it the ideal platform for demonstrating the competitive spirit of our brand. The development of the car isrunning on schedule, and the preparations for the world championship are in full swing. The MINI Countryman production model provided the ideal basis for our new world championship challenger."

Press release after the jump.

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Video: MINI Countryman WRC spotted testing in Portugal

Video: MINI Countryman WRC spotted testing in Portugal

MINI’s entry to the World Rally Championships certainly caught a lot of people by surprise, not because the brand can’t hack it in rally competitions, but because, well, they’re MINI.

It’s hard to take a company seriously, especially one that prides itself on producing some of the weirdest and most eccentric marketing campaigns of any automaker on the planet.

The thing with this WRC entry, however, is that the company is dead serious on it and if you’re one of the cynical types, this video of the company’s Countryman WRC prototype should quell all of your doubts.

The video, which took place at Ponte de Lima in Portugal, shows the WRC Countryman doing some serious rally testing, and with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo-charged engine courtesy of BMW Motorsport, the Countyman WRC prototype is looking mighty impressive in its test run.

We don’t know how that’s going to translate in an actual competitive race, but the car looks to be in good shape, and if they give more time on their testing and development, then MINI could become a player in the WRC when it starts its run in 2012.

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MINI reportedly on its way to the World Rally Championship

MINI reportedly on its way to the World Rally Championship

So what if Porsche beat them in their own competition; MINI’s not exactly the type of brand that just lays down to anybody. Now, they’re looking at embarking on their next challenge, and this one’s an absolute doozy.

According to a report by Autosport, MINI, together with Prodrive, will be announcing a World Rally Championship program. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to translate that: MINI is headed to the WRC!

Details are limited and still pending an announcement, which is expected to be done this week, but word from Autosport has it that MINI’s first WRC offering will be based on the new Countryman and has already been in the pipeline for quite some time now at Prodrive’s Banbury headquarters. The MINI WRC Countryman will also undergo its first testing pretty soon and, according to David Lapworth, Prodrive’s technical director, “When we start testing on our rally car development program, it will be intensive. We still have a good timescale to work towards for testing and we’re happy with where we’re at.”

MINI’s WRC debut will most likely happen at the middle of the 2011 season where it is expected to miss the fist four races and will be launched sometime in May, possibly ahead of the Rally Italy.

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2007 MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS CHALLENGE

2007 MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS CHALLENGE

The new MINI John Cooper Works CHALLENGE will be making its first appearance at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, where the public will be able to gain a first impression of the new racing car which will be delivered to the participating teams in good time before the start of the next MINI CHALLENGE in spring 2008

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