X-Raid's Dakar Rally-Ready Mini is One Angry Bird

X-Raid's rally team worked up this Mini Countryman to fly over, as well as traverse, the blinding white dunes of Argentina's Fiambala, the vast Atacama Desert and the death-defying descent into Iquique in northern Chile. It's the 2011 Dakar, Mini-style.

The Monster Energy X-raid Team recently took its MINI All4 Racing car for a little shakedown at Le Creusot in France. For wine and mustard buffs, that's in the Saône-et-Loire area of France's Burgundy region, southwest of Dijon.

Mini and Austria's Magna Steyr designed the Mini Countryman rally car, which gets power from a 3.0-liter twin-turbo diesel producing 315 hp and 524 lb-ft of torque. After the two-day test session last week by driver Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Michel Périn, the car's now headed to South America for pre-race technicalities in Buenos Aires. Dakar, as you know is no longer in North Africa, but starts in Buenos Aires on New Year's Day and finishes back in the Argentine capital on Sunday, January 16th, 2011.

Chicherit praised the car's handling, responsiveness of the diesel engine and balance during flight due to the improved center of gravity. Originally skeptical of the car's visibility over his former BMW X3CC racecar, Chicherit now says the view is just as good.

Happy landings, fellas.