Dakar - Monster Energy X-Raid Team unveils Mini
· New Mini All4 Racing unveiled after 90 days from start of project
· Chicherit and Périn set to drive new MINI All4 Racing
· Magna-Steyr, Heggemann and Faster boost Mini project
· TÜV Rheinland to support Monster Energy X-raid Team
The X-raid Team has unveiled an exciting new cross-country motor sport programme to run and develop the MINI All4 Racing in international competition.
The project was first discussed in the summer of 2009 and the competitive debut of the new MINI All4 Racing will be in the hands of the French rally crew of Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Michel Périn in January’s 33rd Personal Dakar Argentina-Chile. The event starts in Buenos Aires on New Year’s Day and finishes in the Argentine capital on Sunday, January 16th, 2011.
The new MINI All4 Racing will form part of X-raid’s seven-car Dakar team – the largest ever entered by a team in the 33-year history of the world’s most famous off-road rally - and the third of three vehicles running on the event under the Monster Energy X-raid Team banner.
X-raid team director Sven Quandt began looking at the feasibility of the project in 2009 and held initial discussions with automotive engineering and manufacturing company Magna Steyr and BMW to see whether the new model was a realistic replacement for the BMW/MINI X3 CC - which has earned the Trebur-based team three successive FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rally titles since 2008.
Quandt received the green light for the new project from BMW in June 2010 and Magna Steyr gave their full approval on September 24th. Initial plans for the new project were discussed at length throughout September in Graz, Austria.
The MINI design team and Magna have managed the design of the vehicle. Quandt and engineer Martin Ertl, a former X-raid staff engineer who also manages a Formula 3 racing team, have overseen the new project on behalf of X-raid.
Construction of the new MINI All4 Racing cross-country rally car began in November and has continued into December. The car will be put through a first series of tests in France on December 13/14th. It will then be transported by airfreight to South America for final preparations for scrutineering in Buenos Aires at the end of the month.
The MINI will be powered by a variable twin-turbo diesel engine that is fitted to the 2011-specification BMW X3 CC and built in Steyr – the same place as the MINI and BMW diesel engines are made. The power unit delivers in the region of 315hp and 710Nm of torque. This is an increase compared to the output of the 2010-specification BMW X3 CCs used on the Dakar Rally to seal fourth and fifth places last January.
"This is a major development in cross-country rallying and something of which we are very excited,” admitted Quandt. “There has been a very short time between the decision to go ahead and the roll out for the next Dakar, but we are confident that the new Mini All4 Racing will be competitive out of the box.
“Compared to the BMW X3CC, the MINI will be characterised by improved handling as the overall length is shorter and it is lower. We have also been able to improve on many other smaller details, such as the relocation of smaller components to lower the centre of gravity.”
The MINI benefits from larger air intakes, a one-piece bonnet and a revised and improved ventilation system using a front air intake and a roof intake. Visibility inside the MINI All4 Racing is not on a par with the BMW X3 CC and entry and exit of the vehicle for the occupants is slightly more difficult, but Quandt is delighted with general improvements nonetheless.
Quandt confirms that the MINI All4 Racing is 10cm shorter than the BMW X3 CC, about 3cm lower than its predecessor and has a 10cm reduced rear overhang when compared to the BMW.
Magna Steyr, under the project lead of Hermann Pecnik, have been responsible for concept design, the technical drawings and calculations, as well as the production data and compliance with stringent FIA regulations governing cross-country motor sport.
The frame and chassis components were designed by Büren-based Heggemann autosport GmbH and Faster worked on the complete carbon-kevlar body and provided Magna-Steyr with assistance on the construction of the MINI.
Quandt reckons that the Mini All4 Racing is more service friendly than the X3 CC, as all the body panels can be removed within minutes to give easier access to important mechanical components. The skin of the MINI, for example, can be changed within less than 30 minutes.
The BMW X3 CC was developed over a period of five years and all this development has been utilised by the MINI All4 Racing. The new car runs fully within the 2010 regulations and should be competitive from the outset.
The X-raid team have also confirmed that TÜV Rheinland is to support the three-car Monster Energy X-raid Rally Team entries for Chicherit, Stéphane Peterhansel and Portugal’s Ricardo Leal De Santos on the 33rd Personal Dakar Argentina-Chile.
Cologne-based TÜV Rheinland is a leading global provider of technical, testing and assessment services, has 490 locations in 61 countries and a workforce of 14,500. The company has a long history in the automotive industry and is leading the way in automotive inspection, a service provided not only in Germany, but also in Chile, Argentina, Spain, France and Lithuania.
"The concept of the MINI fits very well with TÜV Rheinland and we are, therefore, delighted to support the team in the 2011 Dakar," said Caio da Silva, TÜV Rheinland chief regional officer South America. "A lot of our 2,000 staff members in South America are very interested in the Dakar.”
The X-raid team’s vast array of equipment is now making its way to South America to arrive in good time for scrutineering and documentation in Buenos Aires on December 30th-31st.
Seven race cars, two race trucks (one MAN and a Kamaz), eight service trucks, six assistance vehicles, two press cars and a team of around 80 people make X-raid’s challenge for honours in the 2011 Dakar Rally the biggest in the team’s history.