It was not a Dakar like any other: the 40th edition of the prestigious event was one of the most difficult ones in the recent past. And it also proved to be a tough rally for the X-raid Team, with the seven MINI pairings representing the team’s colours keeping the squad on its toes. After 14 stages and more than 7,000 kilometres across South America, Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) and Andreas Schulz (GER) secured 19th place in the debut Dakar of the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy.

Hirvonen and Schulz were the only pairing that succeeded in taking its John Cooper Works Buggy to the finish line in Cordoba. “It was just great. Unfortunately, you always have the best stories to tell when things are not running too well,” the Finn said smiling. “But although we failed to secure a good result: that’s exactly how I imagined the Dakar to be. I am really sorry for the mechanics who worked so hard on the buggy before Christmas. But they all can be proud of having built such a great vehicle.”

Despite all these difficulties the X-raid team members never lost their motivation and all the pairings could go to sleep in the knowledge that their vehicles would be well prepared on the next morning. The internal WhatsApp group also demonstrated the great team spirit. The retired pairings proved to be thrilled by the race action and tried to support their still active team-mates with funny and motivating messages.

Result Dakar 2018
1. C. Sainz (ESP) / L. Cruz (ESP) Peugeot – 49h 16m 18s
2. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA) Toyota – 49h 59m 58s
3. G. de Villiers (RSA) / D. von Zitzewitz (GER) Toyota – 50h 32m 59s
4. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / J.-P. Cottret (FRA) Peugeot – 50h 41m 47s
5. J. Przygonski (POL) / T. Colsoul (BEL) MINI JCW Rally – 52h 01m 42s

13. B. Garafulic (CHI) / F. Palmeiro (POR) MINI JCW Rally – 62h 06m 00s

19. M. Hirvonen (FIN) / A. Schulz (GER) MINI JCW Buggy – 65h 36m 46s
20. O. Terranova (ARG) / R. Graue (ARG) MINI JCW Rally – 68h 10m 19s