MINI contests Dakar Rally again in 2012

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MINI Countryman X-Raid Dakar Rally
Heard of the Dakar Rally? Well, if you haven't you're not alone as this historic extreme rally seems to get less and less press coverage year on year.

This year's event started in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, on New Year's Day and will finish in Lima, Peru on the 15th of this month.

Although disappointed to have not finished last year, the X-raid team are back with not one but five teams in highly-modified MINI Countryman's.

It might look like the WRC car on steroids, but underneath there is little in common with the road-going Countryman. I mean, what other MINI is powered by a twin-turbo diesel with 310bhp and a massive 524 ft/lbs of torque!?

Latest news from the rally for the MINIs seems positive, we're only into the third day of the rally, but all the cars are still running inside the top ten. Top performer is Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel in second place, who has won the event nine times, with six of those on a motorbike.

We'll bring you more reports as the event unfolds, but you can see more of the MINI ALL4 Racing in action below.