MINI Motorsports

Mikko Hirvonen to make Dakar Rally debut in 2016

MINI All4 Racing

Mikko Hirvonen will be helped through the withdrawals of his post-WRC career by competing for the all conquering MINI X-raid Team in the 2016 Dakar Rally (3–16 January). The MINI All4 Racing has won the last four Dakar events.

What does Mikko know about the Dakar? Not a lot it turns out, which is why he will be preparing for the Dakar by competing with X-raid in a selection of events in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup. Mikko will make his MINI All4 Racing debut in the Baja Aragón race (24–26 July).

Even though he is joining a team with hopes of outright success at Dakar, Hirvonen maintains the old adage to finish first, first you have to finish.

“Dakar is such a long race and the dunes there are in a world of their own,” Hirvonen said. “So, to finish the event without encountering major issues or without getting stuck anywhere already would represent a really good achievement for my first Dakar.

“Meanwhile, the Baja Aragón is going to be more of the kind of rallying I’m used to. But driving without pace notes in your road book is not so easy and I still have to familiarise myself with the MINI All4 Racing as well.

“But should I feel good in the car and everything works well we hopefully will be able to set some good times in Baja Aragón.”

Motorsports Peugeot

Peugeot announces 2015 Dakar Rally comeback

Sebastien Loeb, Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak

“Our aim is to win the Dakar in 2015.”

That is the bold claim being made by Maxime Picat, Peugeot CEO, following the announcement of the French manufacturer’s comeback to the Dakar event for the first time in 25 years.

Couple Peugeot Sport’s success at last year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with the purpose-built 208 T16 and four previous wins in the original Paris–Dakar Rally and there’s good reason to put some faith into Picat’s words.

Peugeot Sport will create at least two 2008-based race vehicles, to be known as the 2008 DKR. A further sign of its intent is the announcement of the two lead drivers: Carlos Sainz and Cyril Depres.

Rally-legend Sainz has extensive experience at Dakar with Volkswagen, including victory in 2010, while Depres has five Dakar motorcycle wins to his name. Depres will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Stephané Peterhansel who has won Dakar five times in a car after making the switch from motorcycles where he also took victory on five previous occassions.

In recent times Dakar has been the play thing of Volkswagen (victories in 2008–10) and since they got bored and turned to the WRC for fun MINI has ably stepped in to fill the void (victories in 2012–14).

Peugeot won the event four times in succession from 1987–1990, with rally icon Ari Vatanen taking three of those wins and Juha Kankkunen the other.

Motorsports Volkswagen

Volkswagen Motorsport: 2011 Dakar photo gallery

Volkswagen Motorsport - Dakar 2011

It’s about a week or so since Nasser Al-Attiyah and Timo Gottschalk claimed victory in the 2011 Dakar Rally. If you missed the action, or would simply like to see what the lads got up to, then here’s a photo gallery sourced from Volkswagen Motorsport showing the mighty Race Touareg 3 in action. There’s over 100 pics, so you might want to put the kettle on first!

MINI Motorsports

MINI All4 crashes out of Dakar

MINI All4 Racing

Word has come through via twitter that the MINI Countryman All4 has crashed out of the 2011 Dakar Rally. Ironically the race-ending incident happened during a test run on the rest day.

Despite suffering technical problems on the first day of racing and dropping to 78th, the MINI had been making good progress since then and had consolidated a top ten outright position.

It’s understood that while driver Guerlain Chicherit was kept under observation following head trauma, he was not hospitalised and no major injury was suffered.

UPDATE: Picture of the crashed MINI added—look at the state of it—courtesy of the Stage 7 Dakar update (see below).

[via MotoringFile]


Volkswagen Amarok at 2010 Dakar Rally

2010 Volkswagen Amarok

Here’s a short and sweet photo gallery showing the Volkswagen Amarok getting down and dirty during the 2010 Dakar Rally. In all 35 Amaroks were used during the event, 20 of those assisting the successful Race Touareg teams, while the other 15 were used by media and race officials. Looks like they had fun.

Motorsports Volkswagen

Carlos Sainz and Volkswagen win 2010 Dakar Rally

VW Race Touareg - 2010 Dakar Rally

Carlos Sainz has avenged his disappointment from last year’s Dakar Rally on the way to headlining a clean sweep of the podium for the diesel powered Volkswagen Race Touraegs. It is the first time Volkswagen have claimed a one-two-three finish at the Dakar and follows their one-two result from the 2009 race.

Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz (#303) finished 2 minutes 12 seconds ahead of  Nasser Al-Attiyah and Timo Gottschalk (#306). Third place was taken by Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford (#305). Last year’s winners Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz (#300) finished seventh.

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen was understandably elated with the unprecedented success for his team, “Three weeks ago a highly motivated Volkswagen team came with the goal of successfully defending the ‘Dakar’ title won last year. Volkswagen has achieved something historical with this one-two-three.”

Sainz, who can now add the Dakar crown to his two World Rally Championship titles, said “I have fulfilled a dream by winning the ‘Dakar’. An enormous weight has fallen from my shoulders particularly as the fight for victory was extremely hard both physically and enormously exhausting mentally.

“Everything ran perfectly for me: My co-driver Lucas Cruz did an excellent job, from the technical side the Race Touareg ran like clockwork and the entire Volkswagen squad worked tirelessly for the win. Thank you for this.”

It’s the first time an all-Spanish crew has won the event and Cruz was over the moon with the win, “After so much pressure over the last few days it goes without saying that I’m incredibly happy on the day of my first ‘Dakar’ victory. I think we have beaten tough competitors and also one of the hardest ‘Dakar’s’ ever.

“Carlos approached his job throughout the entire event patiently, concentrated but also with great tenacity. He is a great champion, it’s fantastic to win with him.”

A huge image gallery from the Volkswagen Motorsport team can bee seen after the jump, along with extensive press releases including quotes from all Race Touareg driving crews.


Amarok gets dirty at Dakar

Volkswagen Amarok

Volkswagen are happy on two counts as far as the 2010 Dakar Rally goes. Firstly, approaching half race distance Carlos Sainz currently leads the rally in his Race Touareg. However, of more importance to Volkswagen’s production vehicles is the debut of the new Amarok which is being used as a support vehicle during the event.

There are 35 Amaroks on duty during Dakar, with 20 for the Volkswagen race team, and a further 15 used by race officials. The Amarok is being built in Argentina, and the SUV has just gone on sale in South America. Australian deliveries are due towards the end of this year.

As you would expect, VW’s top brass are not missing the promotional opportunities presented by the Amarok’s Dakar role, “We are thrilled to put the new Amarok through its paces as part of this long distance challenge, the world’s toughest, before its official launch,” said Stephan Schaller, CEO of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

If you want to find out more on the Amarok, including updates from Dakar, then check out Volkswagen’s special microsite. For more on the progress of the Race Touaregs at the rally take a peek at Volkswagen’s Dakar iPhone app.

Carmageddon Mitsubishi Motorsports News

Mitsubishi waves goodbye to Dakar

Mitsubishi Lancer Dakar09

The Global Financial Crisis has claimed its latest motorsport scalp with Mitsubishi quitting its Dakar Rally program. The withdrawal goes further and brings an end to Mitsubishi’s involvement in all cross-country rally events.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation says the global economy has forced them to tighten their belts.

Brief statement below.

Motorsports News Volkswagen

Volkswagen Touareg TDI wins 2009 Dakar Rally

Volkswagen wins 2009 Dakar Rally

The Volkswagen Race Touareg claimed a series of firsts in this year’s 2009 Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile. Including the first that counts the most, with outright success going to the South African-German pairing of Giniel de Villiers (driver) and Dirk von Zitzewitz (co-driver).

It was the first time the race had been held in South America. It was the first time a diesel powered car won overall honours. And, with American Mark Miller’s second position, it was also Volkswagen’s first quinella at the Dakar. Volkswagen have one previous Dakar win, the 1980 Paris-Dakar won by Sweden’s Freddy Kottulinsky in a Volkswagen Iltis.

The 280bhp TDI Race Touaregs dominated the rally winning 10 out of 13 stages, and it was a sweet taste of victory for the de Villiers-von Zitzewitz combination after the duo piloted a Touareg to second in the 2006 race. Volkswagen also claimed a third position in the top ten with sixth place going to the German duo of Dieter Depping and Timo Gottschalk .

De Villiers was elated with the win, “I’m so happy about having clinched this exploit for Volkswagen. This victory is worth more than any of the titles I won in touring car racing. The Race Touareg was running absolutely like a charm, and at such a tough edition of the Dakar Rally at that. That was the key to success. I want to thank everyone at Volkswagen for this.”

It was a bitter sweet rally for high-profile driver Carlos Sainz who looked set for victory until a nasty accident on the twelfth leg, but he was happy for the team success, “We set the pace for a long time at the Dakar Rally and led it for a long time as well. That’s why it was a particularly bitter pill for my co-driver Michel Périn and me that we were forced to retire after an accident on the twelfth leg. One must never underestimate the Dakar Rally and prevail against it before being able to win. I congratulate my team colleagues Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz on their ‘Dakar’ victory. They deserved winning this tough rally.”