We're still waiting on the official debut of the MINI Countryman-based World Rally Championship entrant, but the German-based X-Raid team today gives us a look at what a beefier, brawnier Dakar-worthy version of the MINI looks like with the MINI All4 Racing.
The Dakar Rally, if you haven't been keeping up with it like you should, kicks off on New Year's Day 2011 and runs through mid-January, running through Argentina and Chile along South America's west coast.
And if you're wondering how a race team you've not heard much of got their hands on a racing Countryman-based car, you're not alone, but the answer is simple. The team's chief, Sven Quandt, is a member of the Quandt family which controls a 46 percent interest in BMW, MINI's corporate parent. The new X-Raid MINI All4 Racing was developed in cooperation with BMW and Magna Steyr, making it very nearly a factory effort--and therefore a fair preview of what we may expect of the WRC-intent MINIs, at least in terms of overall aesthetics and proportions.
Making the little Dakar racer all the more awesome: it's powered by a 315-horsepower twin-turbo diesel engine already proven in the team's previous X3-based racer.
Given Prodrive's deep involvement with the MINI WRC project and stringent FIA class rules, however, the WRC version of the racing Countryman will be a unique beast.