MINI continues to aggressively defend its Dakar title, with Stéphane Peterhansel fighting off his pursuers through Stage Four of the 2013 Dakar. BMW Group is making an incredibly strong showing again this year on both four wheels and two.

Official news from MINI Motorsport: The most difficult stage of the 2013 Dakar Rally so far produced a thrilling duel for the overall lead between Stéphane Peterhansel and Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Dunes, dust and rocks: just as they were on the previous two legs, the competitors were once again given a stern test of their credentials on stage four of the 2013 Dakar. Where even the more experienced Dakar veterans struggled last year, Stéphane Peterhansel produced a nigh-on perfect display at the wheel of his green MINI ALL4 Racing, as he successfully negotiated the perilous dunes between Nasca and Arequipa. The 288 kilometres of special stage saw the ten-time Dakar winner go head to head with his closest rival in the race for the overall lead, Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Stéphane started day four of the Dakar in first place overall, with a lead of 6:33 minutes over Al-Attiyah in second place. At the eight checkpoints between the start and finish of the stage, the split times of the two rivals were often just a few seconds apart. Excitement right down to the finish: that is what the Dakar fans long for. And that is precisely what Stéphane and Al-Attiyah provided on Tuesday. It is hard to believe that both cars remained flawless throughout the entire stage, which started on fine sand, before moving onto extremely dusty terrain and finally onto a rough, stony route.

Stéphane ultimately arrived at the finish 1:17 minutes slower than Al-Attiyah. Nevertheless, he remains 5:16 minutes clear at the top of the classification. A remarkable result, particularly when you consider that Al-Attiyah’s buggy has over 100 hp more under the bonnet and is about 500 kilograms lighter than the MINI ALL4 Racing. The fact that Stéphane was able to match his pace, particularly over the final section of the stage, is further evidence of his exceptional driving ability, his wealth of experience at the toughest rally in the world, and the reliability of the MINI.

Joy among the X-raid Team
There were happy faces to be seen in the X-raid Team. This is partly down to Stéphane’s excellent day, but also the performances of Leonid Novitskiy and Nani Roma. While Leonid maintained fourth place overall in his orange MINI ALL4 Racing, Nani climbed into the top five in his yellow car. Like their team-mate, the pair was pleased with a successful day at the Dakar. This result also means that MINI currently has three cars in the top five.

Wednesday’s fifth stage sees the Dakar bid farewell to Peru, as the route from Arequipa to Arica crosses the border into Chile. The total length of the leg is 509 kilometres, with 172 of these against the clock. After the many sandy sections encountered on the opening four days, the terrain now has a stonier look about it. Furthermore, the competitors must also cross many rivers flowing from the Andes towards the Pacific Ocean. There landscape has fewer features that allow for reliable navigation, meaning the co-drivers must have a better command of their roadbook than ever here.

The stage clock starts ticking again at 11:25 local time (Peru). As always, you can find all the latest information at und

Top 5 (after Stage 4)

1. Peterhansel
2. Al-Attiyah
3. de Villiers
4. Novitskiy
5. Roma.

[Source: MINI]