‘John Cooper Works Rally car ready for Dakar’

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By David Evans

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.

Pho­tos: mck­lein-im­age­database.com

New Mini has had BMW tech sup­port

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