For fans of seriously gritty, knuckle-biting motorsport, the start of a new year signals one thing: the Dakar Rally. As the world's most daring racers take on the uncharted terrain along South America's coast, the MINI Space team got to grips with the story behind the world's most infamous endurance rally.
Cars, trucks, motorcycles and quads all rev up for this 15-day marathon along the South American coast. Charting 8,574 merciless kilometers through Peru, Chile and Argentina, these racers need to be ready for the full gamut of natural obstacles. From the highest sand dune in the world (the Peruvian "Cerro Blanco") to the world's driest desert (the unearthly Atacama Desert in Chile), this route certainly doesn't do geography by halves.
Unlike many other rallies, the Dakar Rally forgoes designated roads and routes, and lets the drivers chart their own path through unmarked terrain. With an unregulated route, drivers know it's crucial to keep your wits about you. But when that little jaunt covers up to 800km a day, the battle of endurance really sets in. It's no wonder that 50% of entrants retire from the Dakar Rally every single year.
One racer who's right at home on these wheels is defending champion Stéphane Peterhansel - 10 time winner of the Dakar Rally - who led the Monster Energy X-raid Team to victory behind the wheel of the MINI ALL4 Racing in 2012.
Stéphane Peterhansel in his green MINI ALL4 Racing.