Good news for all you nostalgists: the new Mini has finally lived up to its rally heritage and won a global rallying event. After a shaky return to the WRC last year, five Dakar-spec Countrymans entered into the grueling 6,000-mile Dakar Rally in South America and only went and bloody won it. Not just that, all five cars finished in the top 10: not bad for their first run-out.
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Mini win the Dakar Rally
A bit like JLS’ headphones, the pack of Minis were all painted different colours so they could stand out in the vast desert background. And for once, the new Mini actually looked quite mini when up against the likes of Hummer and Toyota trucks.
From the very first special stage in Mar del Plata, Argentina, the overall lead was held by at least one of the plucky little fellas. The winning green Mini (does that make it Marvin, JLS fans?) was piloted by Dakar legend Stéphane Peterhansel. Incredibly, this his was his tenth Dakar win and fourth on four wheels (the other six were on two). One must presume he has lungs like dirty hoover bags.
Before all those who got B at geography GCSE start whining about our Top Gear geography, we do know that Dakar actually isn’t in Argentina, but Africa.
Yes, the race used to run from Paris to Dakar, but the world has changed since the first race in 1978. More specifically, some parts on the route have got a bit fighty. So the race has migrated west and been raced in South America since 2009.
With a starting grid of 443 vehicles, 97 motorcycles, 12 quads, 78 cars and 60 trucks made it to the finishing line of the 33rd Dakar. According to our Top Gear maths, that’s just over 50 per cent. A small indication of just how a course made up of dunes, water, dust and rocks leave cars, bikes, truck and quads crying for mechanical mercy.
Unfortunately it wasn’t all good news. Once again the Dakar proved itself one of the world’s most dangerous races when when motorcycle rider Jorge Andrés Boero died following a crash at the end of the first stage. It was the 21st death of a competitor in the history of the rally.
With epic landscapes, a mixture of big and small machines and lots of lots of dust and sand to kick up, the Dakar makes for some beautiful pictures. So here are some more… Enjoy