A trio of MINI All4 Racing crossovers took the top three spots in the 2014 Dakar Rally, which saw Spanish driver Joan ‘Nani’ Roma come first. It was the first win for Roma in a car at the Dakar Rally (he won the event on a motorcycle back in 2004 when the rally was still held in northern Africa), and it was the third consecutive win for Germany’s X-Raid and the MINI ALL4 Racing.
Roma almost lost out to fellow X-Raid MINI ALL4 Racing driver Stéphane Peterhansel. The Frenchman, who came first in the last two rallies and has 11 Dakar wins to his name, finished just 5:32 behind Roma, though the outcome may have been very different if not for controversial team orders.
In the 13th stage, Peterhansel heeded team orders and relinquished a 26-second lead to allow Roma to pass and ensure a podium sweep for the X-Raid team. Third place went to Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah.
"It was my big goal to win the Dakar not only on a motorbike but also in a car,” Roma said after the rally. “A dream came true for me and I want to thank everybody at X-Raid and MINI for their great work."
Peterhansel, understandably, was not as enthused though kept his spirits up.
“Let’s look on the bright side of things--the car didn’t miss a beat, it took anything we threw at it, like usual, and we had lots of fun driving,” he said. “But I’m frustrated with the final result. The third thing I want to say is that Nani’s my friend, and I’m pleased to see him happy because it’s been his dream for ten years, since he shifted to a car.”
The 2014 Dakar Rally was one of the toughest of all time. The 5,824-mile route led from Rosario, Argentina across the Andes and the challenging Atacama desert to Valparaíso, Chile. The drivers had to face a lot of different weather conditions and soils, and in fact Roma suffered a setback early on due to a puncture. He still managed to lead the overall classification at this year's event for nine days, winning two stages in total.
Though the MINI All4 Racing resembles a MINI Cooper Countryman, the vehicle is actually built around a bespoke chassis and powered by a diesel engine developed by BMW Motorsport. The engine is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel delivering 310 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, and the vehicle’s top speed is around 112 mph.
Overall victory in the motorcycle category went to another Spaniard, Marc Coma, who rode a KTM.