Mini reveals new buggy for 2018 Dakar Rally
The X-raid team has unveiled an all-new Mini John Cooper Works Buggy that will contest the 2018 Dakar Rally alongside its regular 4WD machine.
The outfit will field three buggies in the upcoming edition of Dakar, which will be held on January 6-20 and will span Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.
Former WRC ace Mikko Hirvonen, who finished fourth on his Dakar debut in 2016 and was 13th this year, will be one of the drivers racing the buggy.
The other two-wheel drive cars have gone to American off-road racer Bryce Menzies and Saudi Arabian rally driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi.
The other four X-raid Dakar drivers – two-time event winner Nani Roma of Spain, Argentina's Orlando Terranova, Poland's Jakub Przygonski and Chile's Boris Garafulic – will drive the Mini John Cooper Works Rally.
X-raid's new rear-wheel drive buggy, which will use the same 3.0-litre diesel engine as the 4WD car, has been developed in response to Peugeot's recent 2WD dominance of the South American event.
The new buggy started development in February 2017 and has undergone a testing programme during which it “never had to stop once due to a technical problem”, according to team manager Sven Quandt.
Work has also been done on the Mini John Cooper Works Rally, with weight reduction and suspension changes expected to provide gains of three seconds per kilometer.
X-raid has last won Dakar with Al-Attiyah in 2015, but this year's event was underwhelming for the team, its cars taking no stage wins and finishing no higher than sixth as Peugeot ran rampant.
The French manufacturer locked out the Dakar car class podium with its rear-wheel drive buggy-style 3008DKR in 2017, with rivals suggesting its cars were impossible to beat given the significant weight break permitted to 2WD entries in the regulations.
Peugeot has developed a new 3008DKR Maxi for next year's event, which will be its last Dakar outing – as, amid expectations of rule changes that would hamper its 2WD machines, the French marque has announced it will be folding its programme.
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