In the world of off-road, the Mini Cooper isn’t usually a topic of discussion. Likely not even in the top ten discussions around the off-road enthusiast’s garage or campfire. That is about to change and all it will take to peak your dirt loving interest is one name; Bryce Menzies.
Menzies has been attacking off-road racing for nearly ten years and through those years, he has raced against the top names in the business. He has taken tons of first place finishes in everything from the Baja 500, Mint 400, Red Bull Frozen Rush and even the TORC Pro 2 Championship.
Earlier in 2016, Menzies set the World Record for the farthest distance jump in a truck, at 379.4 feet, in his Pro 2 off-road truck. A second attempt ended up a ball of wrecked steel and a broken shoulder. During his recovery, Menzies linked up with the John Cooper Works Rally team and X-raid. Their goal is simple; Attack the 2017 Dakar.
For the first time in six years, an American will enter the Dakar race with factory backing. The off-road Mini is serious business. Based on the Countryman, the exterior design is all new for the Mini John Cooper Works Rally team.
The desert racer is set up on a wheelbase of approximately 114-inches with a track width of 68-inches. A substantial amount of time was spent getting the aerodynamics of the car dialed in. “The new Mini John Cooper Works Rally is just great,” X-raid CEO Quandt said with delight about the latest addition to the family. “It’s a vehicle that also is based on a thorough wind-tunnel design. This made for better aerodynamics and in combination with further new functions we succeeded in clearly increasing the car’s performance.”
“One of the advantages achieved in the wind tunnel is a higher top speed combined with a better acceleration at beyond 140kph – important areas for improvements,” he continued. “The vehicle’s centre of gravity was lowered significantly. We placed some 50 kilograms in the center of the car about 50 centimeters lower, thus improving the vehicle’s handling and its drivability on any kind of terrain as well as improving its agility on a winding rally track.” The extra time designers put into the car boosted the top speed up over 100 miles per hour in the dirt.
Powered by a 2993cc BMW Group TwinPower turbo six-cylinder Diesel, the car is pushing out 340 brake horsepower at 3,250 rpm and nearly 600 pound-feet of torque at 1,850 rpms. Weighing in at a little over 4,000 pounds, the car has a well-balanced power-to-weight ratio. Power is then transferred through a six-speed sequential gearbox and then out to the four-wheel drive independent suspensions both front and rear. To stop the beast, there are air-cooled six-piston calipers up front and air/water-cooled six-piston calipers out back, all of which clamp onto 12.59-inch rotors.
Overall, a Mini may not be what you think of when you envision a gnarly desert race but this one has all the right stuff to make it a major contender in the upcoming Dakar race.