A maxi triumph for Mini in the 2012 Dakar Rally
Driving for the Monster Energy-backed Team X-Raid ALL4 Racing, Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel and co-pilot Jean Paul Cottret gave Mini its first win in the car division of the 33rd running of the grueling two-week Dakar Rally. For Peterhansel, it was the 10th time he claimed victory in the world's most challenging Rally Raid competition that wound through nearly 5,200 miles of the Atacama Desert and foothills of the Andes in Argentina, Chile and Peru. Peterhansel's other Dakar conquests include three in cars and six on motorcycles. It was his first win since the event - originally known as the Paris-Dakar Rally - was forced to abandon its original African venue due to security issues and migrated to the current locale in 2009.
The privately-entered X-Raid Team ALL4 Racing contingent also dominated the top 10 finishers list in the initial season of Mini's involvement in the Dakar. Peterhansel's closest rival ended up being teammate Joan "Nani" Roma and his co-driver Michel Périn who finished second nearly 42 minutes behind. Russian driver Leonid Novitskiy and Andy Schutz put their Mini Team X-Raid entry into fourth spot, more than two hours behind Peterhensel. Splitting the two and earning the final podium position were South African Giniel de Villiers and German Dirk Von Zitzewitz who took third in a Toyota Hillux pickup that had been prepared to comply with rules that will go into effect starting with the 2013 event.
The two remaining Mini Team X-Raid All4 Racing entries of Portuguese Ricardo Leal dos Santos/Paulo Fiuza, and the Polish/Belgian pair Krzysztof Holowczyc/Jean-Marc ended their Dakar Rally runs in quite respectable eighth and 10th places. Americans Robbie and co-driver Johnny Campbell came in sixth overall in a specially prepared Hummer. Of the 443 cars, trucks, motorcycles and racing quads that started the event, only 249 were officially classified as finishers.