The 40th edition of Dakar (tenth in its present South America location) is underway as participants race over the rugged terrain of three countries. The 9,000-km rally started in Lima, Peru yesterday and will cross into Bolivia and onwards to the finish line 14 stages later in Argentina on January 20. Each country will feature race stages that take place across natural splendour, which also happens to host the toughest cross-country racing conditions known to man and machine.

Desert sand and dunes are equally as tough as the rocky ravines and mountainsides that will be encountered along the way. Add temperatures that will range from +40°C to below freezing and racing at more than 3,000-metre altitude, it is understandable why just completing Dakar is considered to an equal result as taking the overall win.

MINI is once again among the top contenders and this year has 7 international entries, together with the large support team from MINI Motorsport partner X-raid. The MINI teams are focussed on achieving a fifth overall Dakar win for the brand.

This year’s cars include 3 units of the all new rear-wheel drive John Cooper Works Buggy alongside 4 of the revered all-wheel drive cars. Talking just before the event started, Sven Quandt, CEO of X-raid, said: “It’s always our goal to make it onto the Dakar podium – something that is very possible with the all-new MINI John Cooper Works Buggy and the latest MINI John Cooper Works Rally. Of course, there are many variables we can’t control, such as the route, weather and luck, which is something you definitely need to succeed in the Dakar.”

Related article: Latest Toyota Hilux entered for 2018 Dakar Rally

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