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
But one thing I've learned from racing cars is that they're very simple to drive: touch nothing but the three pedals, the gearlever and the ignition, and you're basically fine. "Let me show you the basics," says Stéphane's crew chief. Ten minutes later, I come up for air. There was something about the built-in car jacks and needing to switch off the aircon to route power, something about a satellite phone, first aid and emergency supplies. There may also have been something about a red switch I must press, and two I absolutely mustn't. Or was it blue?
At least I have a co-driver. Not Stéphane's own, Jean-Paul Cottret, whom I suspect is hiding in a distant toilet right now, but a poor sap - sorry, friendly Portuguese gentleman - named Filipe Palmeiro. He seems remarkably relaxed. Leads are plugged into helmets, belts given an extra yank, thumbs are upped and doors slammed. I flick two ignition switches and thumb the starter.