Mini has revealed team X-raid’s 2018 Dakar contenders, and there is a new kid on the block. Apart from a revised and improved MINI John Cooper Works Rally, which came sixth overall in the 2017 edition, there is also a new MINI John Cooper Works Buggy, which has a rear-wheel drive setup. Technically, a two-wheel drive setup will be a disadvantage in a proper off-road rally like the Dakar. However, the rules for such vehicles differ and team X-raid plans to take full advantage of them. Also, these are the most powerful Minis the Dakar Rally has ever seen.
The green light for the development of the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy was given back in February this year by X-raid team manager Sven Quandt, who said, “This has been the biggest project in our company’s history so far and we have worked extremely hard at it”. Powering the duo is a 3.0-litre, inline 6-cylinder diesel engine from the BMW 5-Series and 7-Series. However, it has been heavily reworked to make 340PS of peak power and a massive 800-Nm of peak torque. BMW’s Twin-power Turbo tech has been optimized to boost power, while the transmission and drivetrain have been heavily worked on as well.
The cars use a specially designed tubular steel frame and is covered by a body made out of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) and Kevlar. Though the exterior looks like a standard Mini, it has been aerodynamically optimized for Dakar. X-raid’s team manager said that the John Cooper Works Buggy has undergone intensive testing and hasn’t shown any technical problems, which is quite remarkable considering its short development schedule. The John Cooper Works Rally has been improved as well and it now gets a new chassis, greater suspension travel and weight reductions. X-raid will enter a total of seven cars, three of which will be the John Cooper Works Buggies and the rest comprising of the updated John Cooper Works Rally cars, for the 2018 Dakar.
The 40th edition of the Dakar Rally will take place in South America for the tenth time. It will be flagged off from Peru on January 6, 2018 and will pass through Bolivia before ending in Córdoba, Argentina on January 20, 2018. The Dakar is one of the toughest rallies in the world and comprises of extended desert stages, rock and boulder fields and tarmac sections which will take the cars up to an altitude of 4000 meters high in the Andes mountain ranges.