X-Raid Mini: Short but fierce start into the Dakar


The first stage of the 2018 Dakar is over. After 30 kilometres across the Dunes at Pisco, four MINI vehicles hold top 10 positions. Bryce Menzies and Pete Mortensen (both USA) finished fourth, with their MINI John Cooper Works Buggy. Behind them Nani Roma and Alex Haro in a MINI John Cooper Works Rally secured fifth place. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) and Andreas Schulz (GER) took their MINI JCW Buggy to eighth position, with Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przygonski (POL) and Tom Colsoul (BEL) following right behind in ninth.

For Menzies it even was the very first Dakar stage. “Yes, it was emotional and I was somewhat nervous, prior to the start,” admitted the US-American. “But things went really well for us and the handling of the buggy was just great. We will take it easy and try to hold a top five position in the first week. Then we will see what is possible.”

“Short but intense,” was Roma’s description of the first special stage. “But we also opted for a conservative approach and felt good in the MINI. Deciding to what extent we should push was not easy. I did not want to be the first who has to start into the dunes, tomorrow.” Hirvonen also was happy: “This was a good start into the Dakar, for us. But I still have to work round to this kind of dunes. You can go fast but you don’t know when you have to cope with a dangerous spot. Therefore, I used to be too careful. But I am happy with my performance, nevertheless.”

Boris Garafulic (CHI) and Filipe Palmeiro (POR) in a MINI JCW Rally finished 12th, on day one. Followed by Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA)/Timo Gottschalk (GER) in a MINI JCW Buggy and Orlando Terranova / Ronnie Graue (both ARG) in another MINI JCW Rally.

All in all it was an eventful day for the drivers. In the morning they rolled over the podium in Peru’s capital Lima. Afterwards, they had to cover 200 liaison kilometres to the bivouac at Pisco. There, the pairings had time for a short breather before they had to start into the 30-kilometre special stage in the dunes at temperatures of about 30°C.

Tomorrow, the Dakar fraternity will stay in the bivouac at Pisco. At 06:00hrs, the first car will hit the road into the 267-kilometre special stage without any liaison sections, featuring canyons and dunes.