It looks like it's BMW Group's turn to win the Dakar Rally, only it may be a Mini not a BMW that takes the checkered flag in the grueling 2012 race.
For over a decade Mitsubishi had dominated Dakar. Then Volkswagen was finally able to take the victory for the past three years in a row. After Mitsubishi withdrew from competing, the Monster Energy Rally-X team of X3s, run by Sven Quandt as a semi-official BMW team, has come closest to triumphing over VW's Race Touaregs.
Since Volkswagen has switched its allegiance to competing in the WRC series, the Rally-X team is clearly a favorite to win the 2012 Dakar. The team has entered no less than eight vehicles in the rally — five Mini All4 Racings and three BMW X3CCs.
The Rally-X team has recently been testing in the Moroccan desert. "Our vehicles are very strong in the sand," said Monster Energy X-raid team manager Sven Quandt. "We, therefore, hope that we can benefit from the new route through the dunes at the end of the rally."
The 2012 Dakar Rally officially starts on January 1, 2012 in Mar del Plata, Argentina instead of Buenos Aires. From there the route takes the participants through the Andes into Chile's Copiapo where, on January 8, a rest day is scheduled. Then instead of returning to Argentina, as it has the past three years, the race will continue north through the Atacama Desert to Peru and on to the finish in Lima on January 15. A total of 465 vehicles (bikes, quads, cars and truck) will take part, including 171 in the car category.