Just 32 more days to go and the waiting finally will be over. Then, the drivers will start into the first stage of the 2015 Dakar Rally! While the vehicles already are on their way to South America, the drivers and co-drivers just have executed special trainings to be perfectly prepared when starting into the season highlight. At first, a team-building week held in mid-November on Tenerife was supposed made for the necessary team spirit. And right afterwards, the pairings travelled to the workshop in Trebur. There they trained and practiced on the cars to be able to change some parts of the MIINI ALL4 Racing themselves if it doing so should prove to be necessary.
The Dakar also is a team sport: at first glance, every vehicle seems to be fighting for the win on its own but if you want to be successful in the gruelling desert rally you also need the support of your team-mates. If you get stuck, for instance, the team-mate can be your resort. And this year, the team work will be of particular significance as the rally will feature a marathon stage for the first time in several years. In Bolivia, the teams will have to cope with a night without their mechanics, with the only help allowed being the one of the competitors.
To offer the drivers the chance of getting to know each other better, a team-building week was held on Tenerife. In a finca located in Northern Tenerife, the drivers and co-drivers lived together for several days, cooked together and worked out together. The programme comprised canyoning, mountain biking, sailing, a mountain hike and dancing! “We had a lot of fun together,” reveals Konstantin Zhiltsov, Vladimir Vasilyev’s co-driver. “During the rallies, we haven’t got many opportunities for talking to one another in a relaxed atmosphere. But during the team week, we spend a lot of time together and have the chance of getting to know each another better.”
From Tenerife, the line-up travelled right to Trebur. During the stages, the crews should be able to repair their cars themselves, in the case of certain problems. Therefore, the training programme featured – inter alia – lessons dealing with the engine or the removal and fitting of spare parts. For this kind of incidents, the MINI ALL4 Racing vehicles have got tools and certain spare parts such as wishbones aboard.” Should something go wrong, during a stage, the drivers have to cope with a lot of pressure and stress,” explains X-raid engineer Joan Navarro. “If they have practiced changing parts in advance they will approach the problem with a more relaxed attitude and consequently will be quicker.”
In the meantime, drivers and co-drivers are back home and are continuing their Dakar preparations on their own. To acclimatise and complete the final preparations before the Dakar is started, they all will travel to Argentina in late December. In the morning of 03rd January, 2015, the MINI ALL4 Racing cars have to pass the scrutineering and in the evening, they will be presented the fans on the start podium in front of the Casa Rosada.
In the Argentinean capital Buenos Aires a tenth MINI ALL4 Racing will cross the start podium in front of the president’s palace. Chinese Yong Zhou already competed in the last edition of the Dakar in a MINI and managed to reach the finish as 31st. In 2013 he won the Grand China Rally, which he finished in 4th position this year.