‘John Cooper Works Rally car ready for Dakar’
X-raid has revealed the Mini it hopes will carry the fight to Peugeot at January’s Dakar Rally.
The new Countryman-based car – to be known as the John Cooper Works Rally rather than the ALL4 Racing – will feature a lower centre of gravity, improved aerodynamics and a performance hike from a change to the engine mapping.
Unlike Peugeot’s rear-wheel-drive 3008 DKR, the Mini retains its four-wheel drive transmission set-up.
BMW announced in September it would be increasing its commitment to the Mini Dakar programme and the new car’s time in the BMW Group wind tunnel is testament to that promise.
Significant chassis work has allowed X-raid to include a third spare wheel, while dropping 50kg of the car’s overall mass 50cm lower – a feature certain to help on the twistier sections of January’s South American marathon event.
X-raid CEO Sven Quandt said: “The new Mini John Cooper Works Rally is just great. One of the advantages achieved in the wind tunnel is a higher top speed combined with better acceleration beyond 87mph.”
Mikko Hirvonen and Yazeed Al-rajhi will spearhead X-raid’s attempt to take a fifth Dakar win in six years.
“I’m really looking forward to my second Dakar Rally,” said Hirvonen, who scored his first cross-country win on the Hungarian Baja earlier this season. “I learned a lot in my first attempt and we worked hard in cooperation with the team to prepare as good as possible. I know we will have to face another major challenge, but I just can’t wait for rolling across the starting ramp. Of course I want to try to make it to the podium in January. It’s a difficult race and anything can happen but with a little luck we will become a factor in the battle for the win.”
Quandt told MN he was happy the pressure was on Peugeot and its four-strong line up of Stephane Peterhansel, Carlos Sainz, Sebastien Loeb and Cyril Despres rather than his team.
Quandt said: “We go to Dakar as the hunters rather than the hunted and I’m happy with this situation. For four years, we were expected to keep winning and now we are chasing the others.”
The 2017 Dakar starts from the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion on January 2 and finishes 13 days later in Buenos Aires.
New Mini has had BMW tech support