It's a little-known fact that alongside the Rothmans Porsche 911 SC RS which Prodrive ran for Henri Toivonen in the European Rally Championship, the fledgling company's first involvement in motorsport also involved prepping the same car for Saeed Al Hajri in the Middle East Rally Championship.
Nowadays the outfit is a giant of the motorsport world, having designed, built and run successful entrants in everything from the WRC to touring cars, and Rallycross to Formula One - not to mention its endurance racing exploits. That it has announced plans to design and manufacture a car to compete in the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, brings things rather nicely full circle, then.
This year's running of the event having just taken place, Prodrive's entry is set to be ready in time for the 2021 edition. It certainly ought to have no shortage of funds when it comes to readying the machine within that time frame, the project being undertaken in partnership with the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain itself.
Although no technical specifications have been made available as yet, we do know that the finished product will compete in the top-tier T1 class, alongside the likes of the 350hp JCW X-Raid buggy which Carlos Sainz piloted to his third Dakar victory last time around. That machine, interestingly, was sponsored by the Kingdom of Bahrain, meaning there may well be a reshuffle before the competitors take to the dunes next year.
Commenting on the partnership, David Richards CBE, Founder & Chairman of Prodrive said: "It has been a long-held ambition of mine and Prodrive to compete in the Dakar Rally. To be able to do so with the Kingdom of Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund, Mumtalakat, and in Saudi Arabia, makes the prospect even more special as the Middle East is where Prodrive started its motorsport journey in 1984. Dakar is a new and challenging project for Prodrive, but one that I and the whole team in Banbury are relishing."