Joan ‘Nani’ Roma and his co-driver Alex Haro in the #307 MINI John Cooper Works Rally finished second in the car class in the 2019 Dakar rally. Their MINI was the first of five that finished in the top ten.
Roma and Haro finished sixth in the final stage, which ended in Lima, Peru on January 17. They ran the stage at a measured pace to protect their second-place overall finish. The next MINI in the overall finishing order was the fourth place #303 John Cooper Works Rally piloted by 2018 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup champion Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przygonski and his co-driver Tom Colsoul.
Cyril Despres and his co-driver Jean Paul Cottret were fifth in a two-wheel drive John Cooper Works Buggy, Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk finished seventh in the #314 John Cooper Works Rally, while Boris Garafulic and co-driver Filipe Palmeiro were eighth in another John Cooper Works Rally.
The win in the final stage went to Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz in the #300 John Cooper Works Buggy. It was their best finish in a difficult rally that left them thirteenth in the overall standings.
MINI’s Stephane Peterhansel and David Castera, who had been front runners for most of the rally, crashed out on the penultimate stage. Castera was flown to the hospital with a back injury, but it turned out that there was no fracture.
The winners were Nasser Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel, who dominated much of the rally in a Toyota Hilux.
Sven Quandt, CEO of the X-raid team that fields the MINIs, said, “That was a tough Dakar and the driver who made no mistakes emerged as the winner. Congratulations to Nasser. The same goes for the runner-up, Nani Roma. He did a great job. Going into the Dakar, he was not necessarily one of the favorites, but second place is superb. For me, Kuba also performed brilliantly in the MINI John Cooper Works Rally. Many had written him off, but he proved them wrong with fourth place, adding to his success story. The Dakar was as tough as we expected – a lot of sand and dunes. We certainly had a few technical issues, which did not help us. However, I think the fact that we had five MINIs in the top ten shows how reliable they are. It is a pity that Stéphane was forced to retire yesterday. Fortunately, David is well.”
More information on the Dakar is available on the event website.—Brian Morgan
[Photo courtesy BMW AG.]