The X-Raid Mini team has retained its Dakar Rally line-up for 2021, with multiple-time event winners Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz driving its Mini John Cooper Works Buggies.
Peterhansel drove for Mini at Dakar between 2012 and ’14, during which time he took his fourth and fifth event wins in the car classification.
He returned to the marque in 2019, with Sainz joining him after the factory Peugeot squad they drove for from ’15-18 quit rally raid.
Sainz picked up Mini’s fifth Dakar win, after Nani Roma won in 2014 and Nasser Al-Attiyah in ‘15, at the start of this year and the three-time winner started discussing a new deal with X-Raid during summer.
His 2020 victory was the first in Dakar history to be achieved in the Middle East, although there will be a new route in Saudi Arabia for the next running.
“I am looking forward to competing again together with X-raid at the upcoming Dakar,” said Sainz, who will be co-driven by Lucas Cruz.
“Of course I will try to defend my victory of 2020. Now that some time has passed, I must say that this is one of my victories of which I am very proud.
“The upcoming Dakar will certainly be another great event – after this year’s experience – probably even better.
“Concerning the Mini JCW Buggy, despite the difficult time we were able to find some areas that we could improve on. The team has done a great job and I think we have become even better.”
Peterhansel finished third to Sainz this year, and retired in 2019 on his return to Mini. His most recent win was in ’17, and remaining with X-Raid means he will rack up his 32nd Dakar start next January.
“I am looking forward to being part of the X-raid team again at the upcoming Dakar,” Peterhansel said.
“I couldn’t win the last Dakar, but I still have good memories of it: the team spirit was great and the Buggy was also very good to drive. I was really happy about my third place.
“My motivation is still there – maybe even more so as I know that the Buggy will be even better.
“I have a new co-pilot sitting next to me and I think Edouard [Boulanger] has a lot of potential that he can certainly exploit to the fullest at the Dakar.
“I am also very much looking forward to Saudi Arabia – the landscape there is simply incredible.”
Fellow Frenchman Edouard Boulanger first co-drove Peterhansel at the most recent running of the Baja Poland rally raid, which the pair won.
They also tested the updated version of the Mini JCW Buggy in August, and both cars are expected to enter two warm-up rallies before the 2021 Dakar starts in three months’ time on January 3-15.