Dakar MINI team boss has high hopes for driver Nani Roma

Mini Countryman ALL4 takes on Dakar Rally
Mark Sullivan

MINI ALL4 Racing team boss Sven Quandt still believes that his number one driver Nani Roma can finish in the top 10 of the Dakar 2015 despite engine problems on day one.

The title hopeful duo of Roma and co-driver Michel Perin lost eight hours on the first day of the event after an oil pump failed.

But despite the fact the pair are currently outside of the top 50 on day three, Quandt told AOL Cars that he believes Roma can pull it back.

Earlier Roma told us he had eased off the pace now his chances of winning were finished - but his boss is still hoping he will perform.

"With Nani we had a bit of bad luck - the oil pump broke," explained Quandt. "It is something we have never had before, but that's racing.

"We had to wait for the race truck to pull him in. I think he will still be in the top 15 by the end, maybe even the top 10 because the gaps get bigger towards the end."

The MINI ALL4 Racing team are still leading the event though. At the end of day three Al-Attiyah Nasser is running first while teammate Orly Terranova is third. The latter won day three, his second stage win of the rally.

Quandt added: "We are leading with Nasser and we have Orly in third position so it is good. We still have enough weapons sharp. But the rally has just started."

The team boss admitted the challenges from Toyota and Peugeot - which is entering the race with the 2008 DKR for the first time in years - could prove tough.

He said: "For Peugeot this is their first race and I think Toyota is challenging us more. They are more competitive. But Peugeot is doing well and if they have no reliability problems then they could still be in the top three."

Quandt said MINI brings a lot to the partnership and said he thinks the tie-up works well (but then he would).

Mini Countryman takes on Dakar Rally
Mark Sullivan

"MINI bring technology to this party," he explained. "There are plenty of MINI and BMW guys here working with the team. We send back data for the road car team on the engine wear as this is a road car engine and it is highly stressed here."

The MINI ALL4 Racing cars use 3.0 twin-turbo diesel engines which produce 330bhp and 800Nm of torque at just 1,900rpm.

"Our biggest advantage is the fuel consumption," he explained. "We are very low compared to the other teams. We hold 380 litres on board - we must have enough to cover 800km - but we seldom use it and have to fill up."

Quandt also believes MINI is doing well out of competing in the Dakar too as the brand awareness works for the four-wheel drive Countryman they are promoting.

"The Dakar gives the MINI brand spirit," he told AOL Cars. "Yes you can do WRC, which they tried, but it is extremely expensive, the budget is about 10-15 times bigger than what we need here to win.

"The Dakar is a good challenge for autos and represents especially the benefits of 4x4. The Countryman has done very well off the back of it."

AOL Cars is halfway through a 10-day crossing of Argentina in MINI Countrymans and this was the first and only time we were set to catch the Dakar.

We've been tackling some of the routes and taking in the scenery of the legendary event as we traverse the country with teams from across the world. Read our latest blog here.


Title hopeful Nani Roma speaks to AOL Cars about missing out
Day three winner Orlando Terranova is aiming for a win