MINI's Countryman rally car will compete at the gruelling Dakar Rally in 2011. German rally specialist X-Raid has joined with 'sports' drink firm Monster Energy to create the MINI Countryman Dakar All4 Racing.
It begins testing on December 13 before its New Year's Day debut at Argentina's Dakar, driven by Guerlain Chicherit. The race begins in Buenos Aires and ends there 16 days later, taking on some brutal terrain along the loop.
The Countryman Dakar gets power from a twin-turbo diesel engine developing 315hp and 710Nm of torque. The body is a carbon Kevlar mix and incorporates a roof intake. The ride height is, as you can see, particularly high, although it's actually 3cm lower than the BMW X3 that Chicherit drove for the 2010 race.
Dakar will be the Countryman's first racing appearance before it embarks upon part-time participation in the World Rally Championship. The following season (2012) it will compete for the full series, hoping, of course, to take WRC honours backed by the might of BMW.