There don’t tend to be many motorsport surprises anymore. The rumours around Ford and Audi joining F1 persisted for so long that any shock value was considerably lessened. And anybody wishing to make some electric vehicle noise will enter Extreme E or Formula E, depending on how dominated by SUVs its lineup is. But we’ll consider this one something of a turn-up: Dacia is doing Dakar.
Yep, from 2025, Dacia will compete in the World Rally Raid Championship, which includes a T1+ entry at the Dakar. For a company whose best-known motorsport exploit until now is probably that Logan that met at a sad end at N24, it feels like big news. They’re certainly not doing things by halves, either, employing the services of both Prodrive and Sebastien Loeb for its race car. The Banbury-based team of course has recent Dakar experience with the Hunter (which Loeb competed in). The driver line up will also include Spaniard Cristina Gutierrez Herrereo, who already has seven Dakar rallies under her belt.
Why the Dakar? Dacia believes that the event chimes well with its ethos. ‘The rally-raid is a human and sporting adventure, clearly in keeping with Dacia’s brand territories: it is a robust and outdoor adventure at the wheel of a 4-wheel drive prototype developed to cope with the most extreme conditions; it’s an eco-smart adventure, with Dacia’s race car running on synthetic fuel, and an essential but cool adventure with an ambitious goal that leaves no room for the superfluous.’
That’s from today’s press release, and the link does make some sense; Dacia going into glitzy and glamorous motorsport just wouldn’t be right.
With the confirmation of its entry hot off the press, we’re none the wiser yet about exactly what Dacia will compete with when it comes to the World Rally Raid Championship. The top-tier racers do tend to have some kind of link back to production reality (think Ford Ranger T1+), and something like a Duster would chime with the outdoor adventure vibe. But we’re probably thinking a bit in the box there. Dacia’s first entry into Dakar has to be attention-grabbing, right?
Prototypes will begin testing in 2024 ahead of a full season of off-road racing in 2025. Denis Le Vot, Dacia CEO, said: “Dacia and Dakar are a perfect match! Not only is this a test of Dacia’s true robustness, but it is also a showing of our commitment to low-carbon mobility. We are very excited to take part in Dakar with synthetic fuel technology. Dacia, alongside the best team and drivers in the game, are serious contenders for the rally.” More news as we have it!
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