This year's Dakar Rally, now held in South America, was a great one for Mini, Catalonians Nani Roma, Marc Coma, and Jordi Viladoms, and, surprisingly, for Chinese automaker Great Wall, but not so fortunate for American racers Robby Gordon and B.J. Baldwin.
Mini dominated the car category with a clean sweep of the podium, taking first through third places, and a total of seven out of the top 10 spots with race-prepped Mini Countryman models. The winning team in the Car category (which includes light trucks) was Nani Roma of Spain and Michel Perin of France. The French duo of Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret took second, and Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and Lucas Cruz of Spain took third.
Roma's fellow Catalonian countrymen Marc Coma and Jordi Viladoms took first and second place in the Bike category, both riding KTMs. The two American teams in the Car category, led by Robby Gordon and B.J. Baldwin, were unfortunately sidelined by mechanical issues, and were not able to finish the race. Gordon had issues with his Hummer's intake system, and Baldwin discovered a hole in the fuel cell of his Chevrolet.
Although it didn't take the podium, Chinese automaker Great Wall's Haval SUV division made a strong showing in the Car class with an eighth-place finish, driven by Christian Lavielle and Jean-Pierre Garcin of France. Great Wall has pledged to start selling in the U.S. market within the next few years. There are fewer tests more rigorous than Dakar, so it looks like the upstart maker is off to a strong start.
Source: Dakar, Mini, RobbyGordon.com