Nothing and nobody could stop Stéphane Peterhansel. Not the difficult dune sections that really put the competitors at the 2013 Rally Dakar to the test shortly after the start in Lima. Not the majestic Andes, whose gigantic heights the rally crossed not once but twice this year. Not the relentless heat of the Atacama Desert, which has not experienced a single drop of rain in living memory. And not the strong opposition from 151 participants in this year’s car class, all of whom had to be taken seriously. On the 15th day of the Dakar, and over 8,000 kilometres since the start in the capital of Peru, it was finally confirmed: the winner of the 2013 Rally Dakar is the X-raid Team’s Stéphane Peterhansel in the number 302 MINI ALL4 Racing.
The latest win at the toughest endurance rally in the world is another milestone in the illustrious career of the 47-year-old Frenchman. He has now won the Dakar on eleven occasions – six times on a bike and five in a car. No other driver has ever achieved this feat. Stéphane had already ensured that his name will go down in the Dakar history books and the motorsport annals. In 2012 he won the Dakar in a MINI ALL4 Racing for the first time, presenting the X-raid Team with its first ever title at the most famous rally in the world. In May of last year, he announced that he would defend his title at the 2013 Dakar – which he did in impressive style.
Cheered on by thousands of fans, Stéphane crossed the finish line in Santiago de Chile with an impressive lead of 42:22 minutes over the second-placed driver in the overall classification, Giniel de Villiers. In the car category, Stéphane is only the fifth winner in the history of the Dakar to successfully defend his title. Only Jean-Louis Schlesser (1999-2000), Hiroshi Masuoka (2002-2003), Ari Vatanen (1989-1991) and Pierre Lartigue (1994-1996) had achieved the feat before him, whereby Vatanen and Lartigue made two successful defences in a row. But with his 2013 victory, Stéphane is the only driver in the cars category with two back-to-back titles (2004-2005, 2012-2013). This, plus the record number of overall victories means Stéphane can lay claim to possibly the greatest Rally Dakar honours, which comes in the form of a seemingly modest nickname: Stéphane is known as “Mr. Dakar”. Not only does he have the most Dakar victories to his name, but Stéphane also embodies everything that makes the Dakar so fascinating: endurance, toughness, tactical aptitude, driving ability and, of course, success.
Going into the 2013 event, the conditions were far from ideal for Stéphane and the X-raid Team, and did not necessarily point towards another victory. The organisers had introduced rules that allowed all petrol-driven cars greater performance than diesel cars like the MINI ALL4 Racing. Furthermore, the many Buggys in the field not only lined up with more performance, but also less weight. For comparison: the engine in the MINI ALL4 Racing produces 307 hp, the Buggys started with 420 hp and were about 500 kilograms lighter than the MINI ALL4 Racing. However, X-raid Team Principal Sven Quandt knew all he needed to regarding the qualities of the MINI: “Maybe we can’t beat the opposition in terms of raw speed – but we probably can when it came to the reliability of the MINI in general and the MINI’s handling on sand in particular.”
And that was exactly the case. The MINI ALL4 Racing was a guarantee of reliability at the 2013 Dakar. There were absolutely no technical faults to complain of, and the overall result was evidence of the MINI’s class. As well as Stéphane in first place, his team-mates Leonid Novitskiy in the orange MINI ALL4 Racing finished third and Nani Roma in the yellow MINI came home in fourth. In addition, the MINI trio claimed six of 14 possible stage wins, which means that more than 42 per cent of the stages were won by a MINI. A remarkable result. However, Stéphane never had any doubt about the qualities of the MINI ALL4 Racing. Shortly before the start of the Dakar he said: “I have every faith in the MINI.” And the MINI repaid this trust at the 2013 Dakar – a fact that Stéphane valued highly at the end of the rally.
“As in 2012, we did not have a single technical fault on the MINI to complain about. As such, I am delighted that I was able to defend my title in the MINI ALL4 Racing,” said Stéphane. “It was once again an exciting Dakar and the victory is amazing, even though I have lined up at the Dakar so often. Up until its win last year, the X-raid Team had had to wait a long time for a victory. And now it has defended its title! That was only possible as a team, however. I would like to thank everyone involved for the work they put in.” Praise that Team Principal Quandt was happy to return: “We knew that it would not be easy to win another Dakar. But we also knew how well prepared we were as a team and just what the MINI is capable of. That, plus the great performances put in by our driving teams, particularly Stéphane Peterhansel, who I would like to congratulate on his eleventh Dakar win, allowed us to be successful again this year.”
As such, an outstanding 2013 Rally Dakar for the X-raid Team and MINI draws to a close. However, before Stéphane and Co. begin their long journey home, they can enjoy the presentation ceremony and champagne shower. Both will take place on Sunday afternoon (local time) at the heart of Santiago de Chile, close to the Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda. You will shortly be able to find the best images from the winner’s party at Facebook.com/MINImotorsport in the “2013 Rally Dakar” gallery.
1. Peterhansel, 2. de Villiers, 3. Novitskiy, 4. Roma, 5. Terranova
Provisional overall classification
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.