"The MINI is ready to win the Dakar", said Stéphane Peterhansel shortly before the start of the Dakar. The accuracy of the prophecy made by the newly crowned Dakar victor was proven on Sunday. However, while Stéphane suffered no performance issues with his MINI ALL4 Racing, after his Dakar victory he disclosed that he had experienced certain thoughts about his success during the event.
"I was starting to doubt myself, to think I was growing too old for this, that I'd lost it or that I wasn't made for South America," he divulged after the finish. "And in the end everything turned out fine." Was it to do with the team? The car? The new route through Peru? Possibly a combination of all these factors. However, in his opinion something else played its part in his drive to victory: a blue cloth.
"I didn't tell anyone, but I still have a blue bandana from my motorcycling period," he explained. "I kept it in my pocket throughout the entire rally. It's the story of the comeback of the blue bandana," said the six-time two-wheel winner of the Dakar in the nineties.
Good news it was that the bandana’s special qualities could transfer to four-wheeled motorsport. And how! By the second day of the Dakar Stéphane had moved to the top of the overall classification, thereafter losing the position on one day only through briefly allowing team-mate Krzystof Holowczyc into the lead. Otherwise he overcame tyre damage, shrugged off the attacks of the opposition, and minimised time spent on the enormous desert sand dunes as he sought the winning way to the finish – all told it was a masterful performance.
However, Stéphane does not hide the fact that, beside the navigation skills of his experienced co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret, the vehicle played a crucial role in his victory. "In the MINI ALL4 Racing we fielded a highly competitive, reliable car," said Stéphane. His thanks also went to Sven Quandt, team principal of the X-raid Team, who, too, was convinced about the winning genes of the MINI ALL4 Racing. "From our preparations for the Dakar we knew how strong the MINI ALL4 Racing is," he said. "Here on the Dakar 2012 the car again proved its class under a variety of extreme conditions, and delivered truly outstanding performance and reliability."
And not only for Stéphane, either, for his team-mates, too, had perfect events with the MINI ALL4 Racing. This is borne out not only by Nani Romas’s second place overall, but also by the fact that all five MINI ALL4 Racings entered by the X-raid Team secured top ten finishes. Eight of a possible 13 special stage victories went to the MINI – a strike rate of over 60 per cent. For the X-raid Team this proved to be the cherry on the top of the company’s first Dakar success.
And now? "After the Dakar is before the Dakar" goes the popular saying, so the X-raid Team will shortly commence detail planning for the incoming Cross Country Rally season. The exact programme has yet to be confirmed, but one thing is certain: When it comes to the Dakar 2013 Stéphane Peterhansel will be the one to beat – with or without his blue bandana.
A good eight weeks after his Dakar victory, Stéphane Peterhansel is back in Dakar mode. The eleven-time Dakar champion will be back to defend his title in 2014 – in a MINI ALL4 Racing.
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A good month and a half after winning the Rally Dakar, MINI is launching the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 Racing Dakar Winner 2013 – in a seriously limited edition.
Ultimate cornering, breathtaking acceleration.
Nobody has more Dakar victories to his name than Stéphane Peterhansel. For every one of his eleven titles we have twice as many photos of his most recent success: Congratulations, Stéphane.
A car built for victory. The MINI John Cooper Works Challenge races across the track at 240 km/h.
Experience MINI John Cooper Works.