Mini will take different approaches to the 2018 Dakar Rally with two different cars – the all-wheel-drive John Cooper Works Rally and the rear-driven John Cooper Works Buggy (above).
JCW and its specialist German partner X-Raid won the gruelling annual event in 2012, ’13, ’14, ’15 but finished sixth last year.
The new Buggy is designed to propel the team back to the top of the standings, by taking advantage of the unique rules governing Dakar entrants.
Rear-wheel drive cars are allowed to run with greater ground clearance and bigger wheels that all-wheel-drive entrants. There are weight savings attached to losing the front driveshafts as well.
Along with its higher ride and bigger wheels, the Buggy has a tubular steel frame wrapped in carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic and Kevlar body panels.
Power comes from a 3.9-litre straight-six diesel engine, making use of BMW TwinPower turbocharging tech to deliver 250kW of power and 800Nm of torque.
According to Sven Quandt, team manager, “the Buggy never had to stop once due to a technical problem” during testing in Morocco and Hungary, something he described as “really quite remarkable”.
The all-wheel-drive JCW Rally is based on the Countryman and gets a new chassis and better suspension travel than the current car.
The 2018 Dakar will be the 40th edition of the rally and begins on January 6, from Lima in Peru and ends on January 20 in Cordoba, Argentina. The participants have to cover over 5500km across the toughest of terrains, ranging from deserts, to salt flats, to high altitude areas.