The 2017 edition of the Dakar Rally concluded on Saturday, and X-Raid Mini Team Manager Sven Quandt admitted it was an extremely difficult event, not just on the stages.
Seven of the eight Mini’s that started the event saw the event through to its conclusion – including all three new-for-2017 John Cooper Works entries – with Argentine driver Orlando Terranova and his German co-driver Andreas Schulz finishing sixth overall, just ahead of Jakub Przygonski and Tom Colsoul in seventh, but Quandt admitted the conditions that everyone – drivers and team personnel – were put through were extremely demanding.
“It was a gruelling Dakar – and this does not only apply to the sport,” said Quandt. “This year, the conditions were extremely difficult for everybody. The heat in the early stages with temperatures of more than 40° C, then the Bolivian heights with an altitude of up to 4000 metres above sea level – and in addition, all the rain and the cold.
“This was physically and mentally extremely demanding. Nonetheless, our mechanics did a fantastic job and displayed a lot of staying power. If you are lying below a car in the rain, with mud everywhere and the water running down your collar… that’s anything but funny.”
Quandt admitted that the Mini’s were hindered by the regulations in place in 2017 that saw their all-wheel drive cars struggle in comparison to the two-wheel drive cars of those up-front, and that in future, they will focus on developing their own two-wheel drive system in order to be competitive once again.
“Our MINI racers once again demonstrated their reliability, this year,” added Quandt. “But unfortunately, the regulation factors with their impact we can’t change prevented us from securing better results.
“For instance, the diesel powered all-wheel drive cars are clearly penalised by the regulations in the fast, bumpy sections we had to contest this year, which were extremely demanding for our MINI and there we had no chance against the buggies. Therefore, we will focus even more on the two-wheel drive, in the future.”
Qatari racer Mohamed Abu Issa and his co-driver Xavier Panseri made it three Mini’s inside the top ten in tenth, while Mikko Hirvonen and Michel Perin ended thirteenth having run inside the top five early in the event. Stephan Schott and Paulo Fiuza ended fifteenth, Sylvio de Barros and Rafael Capoani eighteenth, while Yazeed Al Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk brought their Mini home in twenty-seventh.