2015 Dakar Rally: The Ultimate Adventure
An extensive loop of 9,111 kilometres across the South American continent through Chile and Bolivia back to Argentina is just one of the figures of the 2015 Dakar Rally. But there is much more to the upcoming Dakar. From the merciless gravel sections to the breathtaking heights of the Andes, from the sweltering heat of the Atacama Desert to the tricky soft dunes, the competitors are often make their way into the unknown, facing unforeseeable obstacles.
This is what makes the Dakar Rally the ultimate motorsport challenge. This is what makes the Dakar Rally so appealing to international spectators and fans. The Dakar Rally is an adventure – fascinating for competitors and spectators alike.
Drivers and teams start the competition days way before sunrise, and finish them long after dusk. In between lie competitive stages covering more than 4,500 kilometres in total – some of them up to 518 kilometres in length. An additional 4,500+ kilometres are covered transporting hundreds of tons of equipment from the finish line of one stage to the start of the next. Rest is unknown; sleep is precious and a rare commodity. Although the drivers and co-drivers meticulously prepare for and study the routes, they will once again have to overcome many unforeseen challenges during the Dakar. They will encounter all sorts of new and reintroduced stages on which they will need to demonstrate all their driving skills in order to ultimately win. Additionally, on selected stages in 2015 the driver teams cannot rely on the support of their teams. On these marathon stages they have to master the upcoming challenges all by themselves.
The Dakar Rally is a compelling story of challenge, competition, effort, emotion and adventure. All of these are core values of the MINI brand. Great adventures and successfully mastering challenges are ingrained in the DNA of the MINI brand. Without a doubt, the 2015 Dakar will be the biggest test of these core values. This is why MINI and X-raid will come well-prepared. The winning car of the past three Dakar editions, the MINI ALL4 Racing, has been further refined to meet the demanding tasks of the upcoming Dakar once again. Performance, strength and reliability have been the trademarks of the MINI ALL4 Racing, which has been the key to making three consecutive Dakar victories possible; and a team of passionate engineers has put in countless hours of work to make sure that the 2015 MINI ALL4 Racing will excel once again.
Pair this with an experienced driver line-up that includes two-time
Dakar winner Joan “Nani” Roma, the winner of the 2013 and 2014 FIA World Cups for Cross-Country Rallies in Krzysztof Holowczyc (PL) and Vladimir Vasilyev (RU), and Nasser Al-Attiyah (QT), winner of the 2011 Dakar Rally, and there are many reasons for fans of the MINI brand, the Dakar Rally and X-raid to look forward to another fascinating adventure when the next Dakar Rally gets underway on 04 January 2015.
MINI in Rallying: The Road to the Top
From three compelling victories in the prestigious Rally Monte Carlo in the 1960s to three consecutive victories in the demanding FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies and the ultimate motorsport adventure, the Dakar Rally, from 2012 to 2014: success has been ingrained in the genes of the MINI brand ever since British engineer Alec Issigonis invented the original Austin Mini in the 1950s.
It was Issigonis’ business partner and friend John Cooper (GB) who saw the potential for the Mini to be not only a great car for everyday use, but also a highly promising sports car. Cooper, a passionate sports car constructor, developed the Austin Mini to excel in international motorsport competition. In 1963, the Mini Cooper S first caused a stir in the Monte Carlo Rally when Rauno Aaltonen (FI) scored a category win and also finished third overall. A year later,
Paddy Hopkirk (GB) drove the Mini Cooper S to overall victory in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally, this time equipped with a more powerful engine.
In 1965, it was Finland’s Timo Mäkinen’s turn to prove that Hopkirk’s
“Monte” victory in the Mini Cooper S was no one-off. When Rauno Aaltonen secured another “Monte” victory in 1967, the three Mini drivers had firmly established themselves as big names in international motorsport and went down in history as the “Three Musketeers” of rallying. Ever since then, the MINI brand has been inextricably linked with motorsport success and the name John Cooper is intertwined with MINI’s legendary sporting feats. Since the roaring 1960s, the MINI has celebrated countless successes in motorsport events around the globe and enjoyed a widelyacclaimed comeback at the peak of international rallying in 2011, when it returned to the FIA World Rally Championship. Based on the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman production car, the MINI John Cooper Works WRC proved that it was made for rallying by being competitive right from the start. 2011 was also the year when
Germany-based X-raid entered the prestigious Dakar Rally with the MINI ALL4 Racing, based on the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman.
The MINI ALL4 Racing instantly made a splash during its roll-out and shakedown in December 2010. Fans were excited to see a MINI compete in the 2011 Dakar Rally and the goal for the MINI ALL4 Racing was obvious right from the start: to win the Dakar Rally – something that Dakar and MINI fans did not have to wait long for. In
2012, the MINI ALL4 Racing got its maiden Dakar victory with Stéphane Peterhansel (FR) at the wheel.
While the Frenchman got another Dakar victory in the MINI ALL4 Racing in 2013, it was the 2014 Dakar that saw the largest MINI line- up in Dakar history, with no fewer than eleven MINI ALL4 Racing on the entry list – and a compelling result. Not only did Joan “Nani” Roma drive the MINI to victory, completing the Dakar hat-trick for the MINI brand, but overall it was also a MINI 1-2-3 in the 2014 Dakar Rally, with a total of seven MINI ALL4 Racing finishing in the top 10. With three consecutive title wins in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies from 2012 to 2014 on top of that, the MINI ALL4 Racing clearly established itself as today’s ultimate powerhouse in international long-distance rallying.
MINI ALL4 Racing: The Epitome of Success
With victories at the 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions of the Dakar
Rally, the history of the MINI ALL4 Racing is a unique success story. Ever since its roll-out in 2010, the MINI ALL4 Racing has been the epitome of pure power, absolute reliability, technical precision and – last but not least – success. With three consecutive Dakar victories and the same number of overall wins in the FIA World Cup for CrossCountry Rallies to its name, the MINI ALL4 Racing is certainly the car to beat in the 2015 Dakar Rally.
To reach this level of international success, the MINI ALL4 Racing has been optimised in order to meet the specific demands of international long-distance rallying and to ensure the highest level of performance. While the performance of the MINI ALL4 Racing in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies has been nothing but a constant success, each round of the World Cup has also been a testing ground for the development of the car in between the Dakar Rallies. Thousands of competitive kilometres have been used to gather valuable insights into the performance of the MINI ALL4 Racing in different racing environments. From the soft sandy dunes of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge or the Sealine Cross-Country Rally in Qatar to the rough terrains of the Baja races in Hungary, Poland or Portugal, the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies even had the MINI ALL4 Racing perform on ice and snow in Russia. During the rallies technicians and engineers are able to collect data from a car that is performing in highly demanding conditions such as heat, sand, rough roads, altitude etc. This is a great opportunity to test technical features and elements. The technology transfer is possible thanks to close cooperation between X-raid and MINI.
Overall the chassis of the MINI ALL4 Racing is about nine per cent larger than the production version of the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman. While the majority of the body is made of carbon fibre, one prominent feature of the MINI ALL4 Racing’s interior is the roll cage consisting of integrated steel pipes that meet aircraft industry standards (as do all steel parts used). Parts of the roll cage are bonded to the monocoque. With the roll cage as its core component, the MINI ALL4 Racing meets the highest safety standards in international long-distance rallying.
The MINI ALL4 Racing is equipped with a Sadev six-speed, sequential gearbox with six forward gears and one reverse gear. The gearbox has also been further improved with regard to weight and reliability in racing conditions. The gears are shifted using the AP Racing clutch. Once the car is in motion, it is possible to change gears without using the clutch. As in the production car, the gear lever is located between the driver and the co-driver. The gears are not arranged in 9 the conventional H pattern, however. The gear lever is simply moved backwards to move up a gear and forwards to move down a gear. The clutch is a multi-plate, sintered metal clutch, in order to be able to transmit the large amount of torque from the engine. The MINI ALL4 Racing is also equipped with lockable oil-cooled Xtrac front, middle and rear axle differentials.
The diesel engine that powers the MINI ALL4 Racing was designed by BMW Motoren GmbH in Steyr, Austria, to be used in endurance races with the toughest conditions. The TwinPower turbo engine with a capacity of 2993 cubic centimetres generates over 320hp at 3250 revs per minute. This allows the MINI ALL4 Racing to hit a top speed of 178 km/h. The diameter of the air restrictor is 38 mm. The engine is also equipped with a dry sump lubrication in order to limit the overall height and guarantee optimal lubrication in extreme conditions. The wiring was reduced to the bare minimum in order to further reduce the weight of the car.
The MINI ALL4 Racing is also equipped with Michelin All-Terrain tyres in size 245/80R 16. In addition to the four tyres mounted on the vehicle, up to three spare tyres are also on board – two in the bottom and one in the rear. The inner-vented, steel disc brakes (320 millimetres by 32 millimetres) are air-cooled on the front axle and water and air-cooled on the rear axle (six pistons each). The shock absorbers (four on each axle) are fully adjustable. An adjustable roll valve can be used to change the car’s roll. The damper oil is cooled via an external reservoir, which allows a more continuous dampening and a longer damper life cycle.
In the cockpit, the driver and co-driver sit in specially formed Recaro Motorsport seats and are secured by six-point harnesses. The HANS (Head and Neck Support) safety system is also used. The dashboard in the cockpit is made of carbon fibre and consists of three parts: a driver dashboard, a centre dashboard, and a co-driver dashboard.
The information displayed there is reduced to the bare minimum. The driver sees a gear display and a switch symbol, indicating that he needs to change gear. Central information, such as speed, oil pressure, temperatures and electronics information are displayed centrally, making this visible to both the driver and co-driver. This element can be removed and replaced within three minutes, thus optimizing servicing times should it stop working for any reason. The co-driver dashboard contains the navigational elements.
The airflow on the MINI ALL4 Racing is just as important at the Dakar as it is in any other forms of motorsport. Therefore, aerodynamics is something constantly being worked on in order to fully optimise it. The ventilation in the MINI ALL4 Racing is via the roof. This can be seen from above in the form of three holes in the rear area of the roof. A rounded spoiler is located behind these, which guides warm air from the rear area of the car over the roof, producing extra downforce. Because the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman, on which the MINI ALL4 Racing is based, already has a wing on the trailing edge of the roof, it was not necessary to reintegrate a rear wing for the MINI ALL4 Racing, instead the airflow simply needed to be modified to suit the demands of the Dakar Rally.
MINI ALL4 Racing: Technical Specifications
- Engine: TwinPower turbo diesel
- Output: 320 bhp / 3250 rpm
- Torque:approx. 800 Nm / 2100 rpm
- Capacity: 2993 ccm
- Air restrictor: 38 mm diameter
- Top speed: approx. 178 km/h
- Transmission: six-speed sequential gearbox (Sadev)
- Clutch: AP Racing clutch
- Differential: Xtrac
- AP disc brakes (320 x 32 mm), air-cooled
- Brakes: at front, air/water-cooled at rear
- Length/ width/ height: 4333/1998/1966 mm
- Wheel base: 2900 mm
- Track:1736 mm
- Kerb weight: 1952.5 kg
- Tank capacity: approx. 385 litres
- Chassis frame: CP Autosport
- Tyres: Michelin All-Terrain (size: 245/80R 16)