But this year it had none of the vices that saw Nasser Al-Attiyah and Carlos Sainz scrapping with each other in what were two very competitive Volkswagens fighting for the lead last year.
The Qatari driver eventually won the rally and after being announced to drive a Hummer in this year’s edition, it looked like it would provide an interesting battle in the front.
The Minis however looked the other way, at the front, especially when it had the services of nine time Dakar champion Stephane Peterhansel.
The modified and nimble Mini, which is as good as its parent BMW, scampered through with German precision for its rivals to try and mount a challenge.
Al-Attiyah showed a lot of promise to do so but numerous mechanical problems, in what appeared to be a cumbersome and lethargic yet powerful looking Hummer, put an end to his run.
His teammate Robby Gordon was consistent with his results over the earlier stages and was in contention to belittle the Minis.
And that’s where the Dakar drama started.
“The inspectors can kiss my ass,” said Gordon after he won the 12th stage.
The American driver is running under appeal after he was disqualified by the officials for a technical infringement.
But Gordon proved everyone wrong by 15 minutes! He won the stage comfortably with the said infringement plugged up.
Accused of cheating by not only the officials but also his rivals, the pissed 43-year-old had set out to embarrass his fellow competitors, even though an overall victory was just a mirage over the horizon.
“Nasser wins two specials and we hear nothing about it. The same system is on his car,” Gordon explained after the ninth stage. “And now it’s ‘ok explain us your system, what does it do, why is it like this and how does it work.’
All machines go through scrutineering ahead of the gruelling rally, where officials check the conformity of the entrants with the regulations laid down.
The bright-orange Hummer had been approved in Buenos Aeries with Gordon charged up to rub the faces of his detractors in the dirt of the vast expanses of the desert.
“It’s something that I have their signature on that they approved,” Gordon reasoned. “We didn’t change anything once the rally started.”
Peterhansel, who has been competing in the Dakar Rally since 1988, regardless of the allegations that he had thrown in was clear to claim his tenth win of the event – his fourth in the car category.
But everyone loves the underdog, the wronged, who set out to prove a point. And even if they falter, they do manage to step up on an emotional podium.
And those points count.