Five MINI John Cooper Works Rally to participate at 2019 Dakar.

For most, the end of the year is a time to wind down. But for MINI’s Motorsports team, a new challenge is just around the corner.

Mini Motorsport partner X-raid has announced its plan to field five MINI John Cooper Works Rally cars at 2019 Dakar.

The five vehicles, which have already passed through rigorous Dakar tests, are now en-route to Peru for the 41st edition of the Dakar Rally, starting 6th January.

The event is the toughest long distance cross-country event on the 2019 rally calendar, and is the next hurdle for the X-raid team, who already have an impressive 2018 season to celebrate.

The Silk Way Rally 2018 (Russia edition) was one of two notable wins for Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) and his co-driver Timo Gottschalk (GER), the second being winners of Rally Kazakhstan.

The Spanish pairing of Joan 'Nani' Roma and Alex Haro took three wins in 2018 – Baja Portalegre 500, Turkmen Desert Race, and Hungarian Baja. A former winner of Dakar in both car and motorcycle categories, Roma is still hungry for Dakar success.

Representing Argentina in a third MINI JCW Rally will be the crew of Orlando Terranova and Ronnie Graue. Their win in the desert conditions of the 2018 Desafío Inca will stand them in good stead for Dakar 2019, where the heat and sand will be pivotal in determining the front runners in the early stages.

Joining the aforementioned crews will be the experienced duo of Boris Garafulic (CHI) and co-driver Filipe Palmeiro (POR). All four crews will run at Dakar under the banner of X-raid MINI JCW Rally Team.

The fifth MINI JCW Rally to run at Dakar will be with the ORLEN X-raid Team crew of Jakub 'Kuba' Przygonski (POL) and co-driver Tom Colsoul (BEL). Four wins in nine outings helped Przygonski secure the 2018 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup championship title.

The young Polish star says he is more than ready for the 2019 Dakar.

“My goal for January is to do better than I did at the 2018 Dakar. I finished 15th in my first Dakar, seventh in 2017, and fifth last year,” he says.

“Tom and I are quick and have found a good rhythm over the course of the season. We have completed a lot of kilometres in recent months and are ready for the fight.

X-raid CEO Sven Quandt says he’s confident in the cars and team.

“Nani has already won the Dakar once with us and Kuba is very determined after his World Cup win. He has learned a lot this season and matured as a driver. He is certainly capable of causing the odd upset,” he says.

“And you underestimate Yazeed and Orly at your peril. They are both very quick and, if they avoid any problems, are potential top-five drivers.

“We have worked together with Boris for a long time. I hope he makes it into the top ten this time. So far, he has always just missed out.”

Dakar 2019 will run from 6th January to 17th January 2019, tackling the Peruvian desert.

For more information about the 2019 Dakar, please visit the host’s event home page here.