BMW ‘s MINI brand has returned to motorsport ‘s most grueling competition, the Dakar Rally.The X-raid team has returned to defend its championship with four MINI All4 Racing Countryman. This year ‘s route will take the teams across some of the world ‘s toughest terrain between Lima, Peru and Santiago, Chile.Check back often as BimmerFile will be updating the team ‘s progress over the next two weeks.

Official MINI Motorsport Announcement.The 2013 Dakar Rally has started. After a ceremonial start in Peru’s capital city Lima, the competitors faced a liaison section of around 250 kilometres before they could really go full throttle. The subsequent, short 13 kilometre timed stage was more of a sprint, though, than the remaining 13 marathons sections which are still ahead of the competitors. Just three per cent of the total distance 8.574 kilometres has only been completed.

Fired up by thousands of Dakar fans, Stéphane Peterhansel headed the field of MINI ALL4 Racings entered by the X-raid Team to end the day with a 34 second deficit on leader Carlos Sainz. As times on the opening stage are multiplied by a factor of three, Stéphane is officially 1:42 minutes behind the pacesetter. However, the reigning Dakar champion enjoys rearward cover provided by team-mates Leonid Novitskiy and Krzysztof Holowczyc in seventh and eighth place, respectively. Nani Roma holds a provisional tenth place overall.

Does the day’s result reflect a shift in the balance of power after revisions to the technical regulations, which endow the buggies with a performance advantage over the MINI ALL4 Racings? All or nothing for the X-raid Team? Still too early to judge. True, Carlos Sainz in P1 and Nasser Al-Attiyah in P3 are driving buggies. However, extremely short stages such as the opening test generally have little impact on the overall result. The next three stages, which traverse the extended dunes found between Pisco, Nazca and Arequipa, are expected to provide a truer picture of the actual situation.

The Dakar has started, but the rally only gets underway in earnest on Sunday, which features an 85-kilometre stage winding around the city of Pisco, starting 10.11 am local time (CET +6 hours). Keep up to speed with the latest news about the X-raid Team on the 2013 Rallye Dakar via and

Top 5 (after Stage 1):
1. Sainz, 2. Alvarez, 3. Al-Attiyah, 4. Chiherit, 5. Chabot.