Sven Quandt’s X-Raid team will add a Mini to its stable of X3s in the 2011 Dakar rally. The grueling off-road rally, run in recent years in South America rather than in Africa, begins in Buenos Aires on January 1, runs in both Argentina and Chile, and ends in Buenos Aires on January 16.
The new Mini, dubbed the Mini All4 Racing, has been developed quickly. Quandt got approval from BMW in June and from manufacturing partner Magna-Steyer of Austria in September. The car will be tested in France in December and then air freighted to South America for final prep and scrutineering. The Mini, one car in the seven-car X-Raid team, will be piloted by Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Michel Périn.
A hopeful Quandt says, “This is a major development in cross-country rallying and something of which we are very excited. There has been a very short time between the decision to go ahead and the roll out for the next Dakar, but we are confident that the new MINI All4 Racing will be competitive out of the box.”
The Mini has four doors, like the roadgoing Countryman, but beyond that it has little in common with Mini’s latest addition to its lineup. The engine is a twin-turbo diesel like that in the X-Raid team’s X3 CC. It delivers 315 horsepower and 710 nm of torque, an increase over the output of the engines that powered the team’s X3s to fourth and fifth in the Dakar in 2010. The Mini’s carbon-kevlar body panels can be removed quickly to gain access to the car’s mechanical components, and the entire skin of the car can be changed in 30 minutes.
Quandt says, “Compared to the BMW X3CC, the Mini will be characterized by improved handling as the overall length is shorter and it is lower. We have also been able to improve on many other smaller details, such as the relocation of smaller components to lower the center of gravity.”
For more on the X-Raid team, see the team’s web site. The official site of the 2011 Dakar is here.