MINI and X-raid will once again team up to take on the treacherous Dakar Rally.

A total of 11 Countryman-based MINI ALL4 Racing rally cars will compete in the 2014 Dakar, all run by the X-raid team. MINI is looking for its third Dakar win in a row.

Last year, the Monster Energy-sponsored MINI of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret took first place, completing the race in 38:32.39--over 42 minutes ahead of the next-fastest team. MINI was so pleased with itself that it launched a special-edition JCW Countryman to commemorate the victory.

Peterhansel and MINI were actually defending their 2012 title; an impressive feat considering the car had only been introduced for the 2011 race.

No changes to the MINI ALL4 Racing have been reported. That means it will likely use the same BMW Motorsport-developed 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine as before, with 310 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque.

The Dakar Rally will once again be held in South America, as it has been since 2009 due to political unrest in its original African locale. It will start in Rosario, Argentina on January 5 and finish in Valparaiso, Chile on January 18, covering 13 stages and a total distance of over 5,200 miles.

Dakar is an important PR pillar for MINI, because it ties the brand's current vehicles to the legendary rally exploits of the original, John Cooper-prepped cars that dominated events like the Monte Carlo Rally in the 1950s. The cars may be different, but the appeal of speed hasn't changed.

The 11 MINI racers will set out on the 36th Dakar Rally in a few weeks, and one of them just might allow the brand to accomplish a Dakar hat trick.


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