The average crossover vehicle doesn’t go much farther off-road than to the parking lot of a Cabela’s or Gander Mountain, but MINI’s Countryman is pushing into territory much, much more challenging than that. The MINI Countryman-equipped Monster Energy X-raid team will participate in the 35th Rally Dakar starting this Saturday in Lima, Peru.
Monster Energy’s MINIs are no stranger to the event; the team won with a Countryman in 2012, and the team hopes to repeat the victory with its four-car team this year. The purpose-built MINI ALL4 Racing trucks, based on the Countryman, have been extensively tested in preparation for the fourteen-day event, which covers 4,970 miles through Peru, Argentina and Chile.
The racing MINIs are purpose-built desert-raid vehicles, powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo diesel engine producing over 300 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed sequential transmission puts the power to all four wheels, and it weighs about 1900 kilograms unloaded. The cockpit is designed for a two-man crew, and there’s space in the rear for spares.