Dakar 2021: Top cars to look out for
The Dakar 2021 Rally has begun with stage one flagging off two days ago on January 3, 2021. The third stage is ongoing and Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz of the X-Raid Mini JCW are already on position one and two while the Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux commandeered by Nasser Al-Attiyah is in third position. While there are many capable cars entering the Dakar, we think these are the ones that deserve a second glance. They’re all robust machines built with a sole purpose of being able to withstand some seriously harsh terrain. Let’s see what underpins these conquerors of the desert.
X-Raid Mini JCW’s Buggy
The buggy that the X-Raid team drives is the Mini JCW Buggy. It is powered by a three-litre, six-cylinder diesel engine from the BMW stable that churns 350bhp at 3500rpm and a mental 770Nm of torque at 2150rpm and is mated to an Xtrac six-speed gearbox with an integrated differential. The Buggy, true to its name, is rear-wheel drive only. The car gets a fuel tank that is capable of holding roughly 325 litres of diesel.
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Hilux
Toyota Gazoo Racing team’s Hilux comes fit with a massive, mid-mounted, five-litre petrol V8 engine. The mill churns out 385bhp and 620Nm of torque and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. The Dakar prepped Hilux that Nasser Al-Attiyah drives gets an all-wheel-drive system similar to the one that the road-going Hilux gets. There are no details on the make and model of the suspension setup on the TGR Hilux but, we know that It uses a fully independent suspension setup. For years, the Hilux has been the go-to pickup, be it for rally drivers or regular road users thanks to its robust underpinnings.
Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s Hunter
The Hunter is a brand-new car that has been made by Prodrive with BRX (Bahrain Raid Xtreme). It uses Ford’s 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 and it is the first time that a Dakar car is using a turbo-petrol engine. The engine puts out 400bhp and 700Nm of torque. The hunter has a fuel capacity of 500 litres and tips scales at about two tons. In terms of suspension and brakes, the Hunter gets double wishbone suspension and ventilated disc brakes. The Hunter is being driven by Sebastian Loeb and Nani Roma.
X-Raid Mini JCW Rally
The Rally car used by the X-Raid Mini JCW team is also powered by the same BMW six-cylinder, three-litre diesel engine as found on the Buggy. So, power and torque outputs are identical at 350bhp at 3500rpm and 770Nm at 2150rpm, respectively. But, the engine in the rally car is mated to a Sadev six-speed gearbox. Another major difference from the Buggy is that the Rally car Is that it gets AWD. Visually, the Rally car is based on the Mini Countryman’s body. The fuel capacity is also higher at approximately 365-litre.
How do they compare against each other?
Essentially, the Mini JCW Buggy and the Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux are two very different cars. The Buggy is diesel powered with RWD, while the Hilux is essentially a petrol-powered pick-up truck with AWD. The Buggy with its higher top speed has the edge on the faster, ‘flat-out’ bits while the Hilux with its AWD system claws back the advantage in the trickier, more technical bits. And this time around in the 2021 edition of the Dakar Rally with the imposition of the 180kmph speed limit for the T1 category (both the Buggy and Hilux are in this category) the playing field has never been more even. This is the first outing for team BRX’s Hunter. So, it is still early to say where the Hunter has an edge. That being said the Hunter should fare well at the hands of nine-time WRC champion Sebastian Loeb. It’ll be extremely interesting to see how the Dakar 2021 proceeds and how these cars get on. Watch this space to stay up to date with all the thrilling happenings of the 2021 Dakar Rally.