Mini takes on the 2018 Dakar with both rally vehicle and buggy

Powered by the same BMW-derived 3-litre inline 6-cylinder diesel engine that is found in the Mini John Cooper Works Rally, it puts out 340bhp and 590lb ft of torque. Mini already has a history with the Dakar - four victories during the 2012 to 2015 period and three cars in the top ten previous year - and it's going to bring a traditional entry in the form of the John Cooper Works Rally vehicle. According to Sebastian Mackensen, Senior Vice President of Mini, the reason lies in the specifics of the Dakar Rally rules, which, in their current form, give two-wheel driven cars certain advantages. Work began on the JCW Buggy in February 2017 and the race vehicle boasts a specially designed tubular steel frame with carbon fiber-reinforced plastic and Kevlar stretched over the frame itself.

While the JCW Rally looks the part of a Mini that's been ruggedized and liveried for off-road competition, the JCW Buggy looks like a ground-up desert-racing machine. The aero-optimized design also includes some major air intakes around the sides and roof, along with a squared-off rear fender design. The auto a long time was tested in Morocco and Hungary. Mini said the JCW Buggy never stopped. Plans call for a chassis restructuring, more suspension travel and a weight reduction.

Mini will take three buggies and four cars to the Dakar, with former WRC driver Mikko Hirvonen among the Buggy's drivers and two-time Dakar victor Nani Roma in one of the cars. Mikko Hirvonen, Bryce Menzies and Yazeed Al-Rajhi will pilot JCW Buggies, while Orlando Terranova, Jakub Przygonski, Joan "Nani" Roma and Boris Garafulic will man the JCW Rallies.

The second Mini vehicle competing in the rally would be the John Cooper Works Buggy. The first stage kicks off on January 6 and the final stage is slated for January 20.

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