MINI in the desert – the small but mighty car taking on Dakar.
Endurance rallies are typically not forthefaint hearted, and the gruelling off-road trials of the Dakar rally are no different. However, the hard-hitting annual event is no barrier for MINI which, since first competing in 2011, has won three out of four of the races it has entered.
MINI started its new era of motorsport dominance in 2011, when it specially outfitted a new vehicle for the gruelling, unpredictable Dakar trial circuits. Custom-designed for the unpredictable terrain, and able to handle anything the off-road track threw at it, the MINI ALL4 Racing vehicle would set the foundation for many wins to come.
Development of the MINI ALL4 Racing first began in 2010 – one year prior to the first competition. At the helm of the new vehicle would be the fearless daredevil of a driver and four time Dakar racer Guerlain Chicherit – a world champion, pro-skier-turned-madcap-motorist.
Although Chicherit’s first run took a tough turn during practice when, sitting at a respectable 9th overall, he tumbled on one of the infamously dangerous crests, he still took MINI over the final finish line in Buenos Aires.
It was legendary racer Stéphane Peterhansel, however, who secured MINI’s inaugural first place at Dakar in the MINI ALL4 Racing. So-called 'Mr Dakar' was hungry for his elusive 10th first place win in the tournament – and he was not disappointed. Hot at his heels was Nani Roma, who placed second even after getting stuck in a dune in his final stage. Three other MINI ALL4 Racing vehicles finished in the top 10.
Not content with 10 victories, Mr Dakar went on to add an 11th title to his wheelhouse when he seized another commanding win: he came into the finish line a full 42 minutes before the runner-up arrived. Overall MINI took 1st, 3rd and 4th, as well as spots 12 and 48.
Spaniard Nani Roma, himself a previous winner of Dakar in the motorcycle category, had been a close competitor with Peterhansel in the years before and was out for the top spot in 2014. With Roma clinching victory, Peterhansel closely followed in 2nd with teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah in 3rd. Beyond the podium, drivers of the MINI ALL4 Racing took 5th and 6th place, as well as 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th. Every single one of the 11 MINI ALL4 Racing vehicles completed the rally that only half of all entrants can finish.