Mini is going to Dakar, or at least the 2011 Dakar Argentina-Chile race. Monster Energy has partnered up with the X-Raid Team to bring a diesel-powered Mini Countryman to the sands of South America in just 90 days. The team started on the project last month, and the reworked Countryman has to be in Argentina before the New Year. Between now and then are hours of wrenching and a few shake-down runs in France on December 13 and 14.
X-Raid has previously campaigned a BMW X3CC, helping the team to nab three FIA World Cup titles for cross country racing, and last year the vehicle helped the team walk away with fourth and fifth place finishes in the 2010 Argentina-Chile race. To that end, the team will be using a turbo-diesel engine borrowed from the bad Bimmer. With 315 horsepower and 523 pound-feet of torque, the engine brings a substantial bump in power to the table while using the same architecture as the lump found in the 2010 X3CC.
Switching to the Countryman has a number of benefits, including better handling from the vehicle's lower center of gravity and shorter wheelbase, though the team says that ingress and egress is a little more complicated compared to the BMW. Look for the Mini All4 Racing during this year's Argentina-Chile this January.