Top Gear drives the Dakar-winning Mini
Before it conquered South America, we took the 311bhp X-Raid Mini Countryman for a shakedown
Posted: 26 Feb 2014
You're not alone. But for several reasons (not least that this isn't a BMW factory team), you're not right. In fact, you're a very long way from right. And a very long way from anywhere, too. A four-hour, 200-mile drive from Ouarzazate (pronounced Wa-za-zat), if that helps. Probably not. I could do the whole story on the drive here. The last 20 miles have been particularly surreal, chiefly thanks to the presence of cops every, ooh, 250 metres. Not just in towns, but in the desert, too. Turns out the king has a palace in Erfoud, so he's dropped in for a bit of R&R.
We arrive at a compound in the middle of the desert. I'm sure there was one like it in the Star Wars films. Wind buffets sand against the camel-coloured perimeter walls, it's bleak and hostile with thick gates. But in the castle's keep... it's a different world. There's a tub of Haribo on the side, the familiar clatter of wheel guns, dodgy rock music, the tapping of laptops and - blessed relief - air-conditioning. Apparently, there's even a small swimming pool around the side. It's motorsport nirvana in the depths of the Sahara.