X-Raid made news ahead of the 2018 Dakar by announcing the entry of a combination of four Mini ALL4 Racings and three brand-new two-wheel drive buggies. All seven machines will compete on equally-new BFGoodrich® All Terrain KDR2+ tyres.
The German team X-Raid has chosen not to put all its eggs in one basket for the 2018 Dakar. In addition to pursuing the development of the Mini All4 Racing as a function of the latest regulations for four-wheel drive cars (suspension travel, weight, etc.), it has also designed a new two-wheel drive buggy. Both machines were presented to the press in Paris, France, on November 21.
“This is the first ever X-Raid-developed buggy,” admits team boss Sven Quandt. “We came up with the idea of building it some time ago. The project started last February and involved a team of 40 engineers of five different nationalities and six different specialities. Most of the time, they collaborated via video conferences because we also called on the services of outside partners, like Heggemann for the chassis, X-Track for the transmission and KLK Motorsport for the aerodynamics.
“The John Cooper Works Buggy ran for the first time at the beginning of September, near our base in Trebur,” continues Sven Quandt. “We then spent three weeks in Morocco where we were joined by BFGoodrich® technicians who brought along the new BFGoodrich® All Terrain KDR2+. It’s something of an accomplishment to have succeeded in turning this dream into reality.”
The team will run three buggies on the 2018 Dakar, in the hands of former WRC star Mikko Hirvonen, who handled much of the development work, American off-road champion Bryce Menzies and the talented Yazeed Al-Rajhi.
“Driving a buggy is obviously very different to driving a Mini,” notes Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen. “Buggies are lighter and much better over bumpy terrain thanks to their longer suspension travel. We didn’t have any major problems in testing. Our buggy performs very well, thanks notably to its BFGoodrich® All Terrain KDR2+ tyres which are efficient in all types of conditions. Even though our buggy has yet to compete in anger, there is every reason to be confident.”
A four-time Dakar winner, the Mini ALL4 Racing has evolved considerably since last year, thanks notably to new technical regulations which make it even more competitive. Spain’s Nani Roma – who has contested the Dakar 23 times, and who won for Mini in 2014 – believes the car has been transformed. “The new suspension provides a more comfortable ride and is more efficient on rough ground,” he says. “The car’s weight has come down significantly, too, while its braking performance and road holding have been upgraded.”
The X-Raid Minis are fitted with the 16-inch version of the new BFGoodrich® All Terrain KDR2+ (245/80-16) developed for four-wheel drive cars, while the team’s buggies run on the 17-inch version of the same tyre (37/12,5-17). The team’s aim is to compete at the sharp end with both types of car and finish on the podium. “Victory would be icing on the cake,” concludes Sven Quandt. “It is our duty to fight to the best of our ability. The rest, as usual on the Dakar, is down to luck.”
Mini and the Dakar
4 straight Dakar wins (2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015)
10 FIA World Cup crowns
Four Mini crews: Boris Garafulic/Filipe Palmeiro, Orlando Terranova/Bernardo Graue, Nani Roma/Alex Haro, Jakub Przygonski/Tom Colsoul
Three buggy crews: Bryce Menzies/Pete Mortensen, Mikko Hirvonen/Andreas Schulz, Yazeed Al Rajhi/Timo Gottschalk