BMW Mini and X-Raid unveil 2017 Dakar challenger

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Mini has unveiled its all-new John Cooper Works Rally, which it states underlines the team’s long-term commitment to motorsport, particularly the arena of rally-raid and the FIA World Cup. 

The 2017 Mini John Cooper Works Rally is a new development from Mini and X-raid, Based on the all-new Mini Countryman, the new car has been designed and constructed to ‘achieve and exceed the same level of success as the previous car’. During the Mini John Cooper Works Rally design, development and build processes, many key areas came under scrutiny and have been extensively reworked when compared to the former cross-country rally car.

Mini and development partner X-Raid both state that the above areas were subject to ‘many hours’ of design and simulation tests to ensure the new car delivers improved performance with lower fuel consumption. The changes also delivered a very positive outcome on the drivability of the car from gains made in stability, traction and agility.

The new car’s exterior profile, whilst replicating the Countryman roadcar, has been honed in the BMW Group Wind Tunnel and as a result has ‘considerably reduced drag’. BMW is keen to highlight that because the FIA and ASO regulations for Dakar are so closely regulated, the design details refined through aero work are critical to the car’s improved performance, particularly during high speed runs across flat, open trail sections, which require stability at speed. Reduced fuel consumption and better subsystem cooling is also experienced with the improved aerodynamics.

A carbon fibre and Kevlar composite is used for the John Cooper Works Rally outer shell, while a honeycomb mix of the same materials is used for an underside tier. Again, BMW is keen to highlight how the use of such materials is beneficial in a threefold manner. Firstly, the increased strength and durability offer increased safety protection for the two-man crews, whilst the material’s reduced weight with greater strength has benefits from weight distribution and packaging perspectives. Finally, the quick-release panels are easily removed or replaced during servicing periods or if damaged.

The underside tier now houses all three of the allotted three spare tire and wheel combinations, as well as two hydraulic jacks that are operated from within the cabin. Previously only two spare wheels were carried in the underside compartments. By moving the third from the boot space to underneath, a lower CoG was obtained along with a change in weight distribution to improve stability and associated driving dynamics.

The original design of the all-new Mini Countryman was transferred into Mini John Cooper Works Rally by emphasizing the main features. The design team were designing to ‘form follows function’, by purposeful changing the original.

To ensure the safety of the crew and in accordance with regulations, the chassis frame of the Mini John Cooper Works Rally is replaced with a tubular frame constructed by CP Autosport, designed specifically for the demands of cross-country racing. Hung from the tubular chassis is an X-raid designed frontal subframe. The design of the chassis and the new subframe means that a complete engine removal service can be completed in just over one hour.

The new car’s suspension is provided, once again, by off road specialists Reiger Racing Suspension. Each axle rides on four fully-adjustable suspension units (two dampers per wheel) providing the permissible 250mm wheel travel. Six-piston calipers all-round act on 320mm vented steel discs. To ensure consistent braking performance while under the stress of racing conditions for hours on end in high ambient temperatures, the rear brake calipers are air and water-cooled.

Powering the new car is a BMW Group-sourced ‘Twin Power’ turbocharged six-cylinder diesel engine, codenamed ‘N57’. Designed with endurance competition in mind, the 2993cc dry sump engine produces 340hp @ 3250rpm, and torque of approx. 800Nm @ 1850rpm with the regulatory 38mm air restrictor in place. A revised ECU map, which has been tweaked in line with the high altitude running of the 2017 Dakar, has resulted in improved fuel consumption, whilst a bespoke Akrapovič exhaust system completes the revisions.

The driveline features an AP Racing clutch combined with a six-speed SADEV sequential gearbox. Lockable, oil-cooled Xtrac front and rear diffs with a central SADEV unit to deliver maximum engine performance at all times regardless of the terrain and racing conditions.

Inside the Mini John Cooper Works Rally is an all-new interior design. The carbon fibre dashboard area consists of three sections: driver, central and co-driver info units displaying essential info. The driver has selected gear display and LED readout for RPM and gear ratio shift alert. Speed, oil pressure, fluid temperatures and electronic functions are displayed on the central dashboard to enable both crew members to view. All navigational systems are located on the co-driver’s dashboard.

A full HD gallery of the 2017 Mini John Cooper Works Rally can be found on the PMW Expo page.

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About Author

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John joined UKi Media & Events in 2012 and has worked across a range of B2B titles within the company's automotive portfolio. Prior to joining the company, John worked for leading automotive design website, Car Design News. Currently editor of Engine Technology International, Professional MotorSport World, Professional MotorSport Circuit, and Transmission Technology International, John co-ordinates the day-the-day operations of each magazine, from commissioning and writing to editing and signing-off, as well managing web and social media content. Aside from the magazines, John also serves as chairman of the annual Professional MotorSport World Awards.

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