Mini’s New Fire-Breathing, Dune-Surfing Dakar Racer Has Arrived

Back with a vengeance. 

Mini Motorsport

Between 2012 and 2015, the Mini ALL4 Racing dominated Dakar. Three wins on the trot, before the Peugeot Total team finally caught up, taking the top podium spot  at this year’s event in January. For next year, though, Mini Motorsport looks to be back with a vengeance.

Mini

Meet the John Cooper Works Rally, developed with Germany’s X-Raid race shop, and all-new for Dakar 2017. Like its predecessor, the body shell resembles a Countryman, but that’s just to appease the bean counters. Each exterior panel is carbon composite, packed onto a custom tubular chassis and redesigned CP Autosport subframe, which Mini says facilitates a one-hour interval for engine removal. That turbocharged lump, a diesel-fed 3.0-liter straight-six from BMW, has also been retuned. It’s now good for 340 hp and a thumping 590 lb-ft, available from 3,450 and 1,850 rpm respectively. Power runs through a six-speed sequential gearbox, working with a Sadev transfer case and oil-cooled, lockable differentials front and rear.

Mini

Both axles employ fully-adjustable suspension, two dampers per wheel, sourced from Reiger Racing. They allow nearly 10 inches of travel. All four corners have vented 12.5-inch steel brake discs with six-piston calipers, the rear set of which are water-cooled. Three spare tires, as well as dual air jacks, are now tucked into the underbody. Compared to the outgoing Dakar Countryman, engineers say, over 110 lbs have migrated downward almost 20 inches. Besides center of gravity, the big focus here is aero; extensive wind tunnel testing begat a sleeker undertray and integrated roof scoop, making the Mini much better through the air, with a 114-mph top speed. An exotic new Akrapovič exhaust system is just the cherry on top.

Mini

Look for the new Mini Motorsport John Cooper Works Rally at Dakar 2017 this coming January.