Stéphane Peterhansel and his co-driver Edouard Boulanger won the 2021 Dakar Rally in the #302 Mini John Cooper Works Buggy. They finished third in the final stage of the rally that ended in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on January 15. It was the fourteenth Dakar win for Peterhansel, counting six victories on bikes and eight in cars. His first win came on a bike in 1991. It was the sixth win for Mini.
Peterhansel’s X-raid teammates Carlos Sainz and Victor Cruz in the #300 Mini John Cooper Works Buggy, the 2020 winners of the event, won the final stage and finished third in the overall standings. Mini’s closest competitor was Toyota; Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mattheiu Baumel finished second overall in a Toyota Hilux, winning six stages along the way. Peterhansel won just one stage, the ninth in the event, but finished consistently near the top on every other stage, with five second-place finishes, five thirds, and one fourth.
There was one more Mini in the top-ten. Vladimir Vasilyev and Dmitro Tsyro finished sixth overall in the #317 Mini John Cooper Works Rally, the best finisher among the six X-raid JCW Rallies in the event.
Peterhansel said, “I’m over the moon with the win. The pressure was immense since we were leading the overall standings for much of the race. You can only lose in that situation. But I have to say, we drove almost a perfect Dakar without any major errors and once again that was the key to success. Things were perfect between Edouard and me, and I was delighted to have him sat next to me. He couldn’t have done anything better.”
X-raid CEO Sven Quandt noted, “It’s never easy winning, but this win was particularly difficult since the terrain is very similar to Africa: fast and slow sectors, with lots of stones—topped off by difficult navigation. We’re delighted to have brought home this sixth win for Mini. We didn’t dare dream of first and third place ahead of the Dakar. The past fourteen days have been very tiring: leading the overall standings for much of the rally, the tricky navigation, and lots of tire damage. But once again Stéphane showed that it is not without reason that he is Mr. Dakar. He shone on difficult terrain and drove very cleverly strategically. He only got one day win, but a lead of fourteen minutes in the overall standings.”—Brian Morgan
[Photos courtesy Mini Motorsport.]