GULFWEEKLY: Bahrain Raid Xtreme (BRX) is raring to get into the racing action and their mean machine of choice has been revealed.
The red Hunter, a bespoke 4x4 T1 car powered by a 3.5 litre turbo-charged petrol V6, will make its debut in the 2021 edition of Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia – arguably the world’s most extreme motorsport challenge.
BRX, which brought the Hunter to life, is the product of a joint venture between Mumtalakat, the sovereign wealth fund of Bahrain, and Prodrive International.
David Richards, BRX team director and the man leading the project who previously dubbed Dakar Rally “the Everest of motorsport”, is confident the team and its Hunter will do well.
“The BRX Hunter builds on Prodrive’s experience competing at the highest levels of world motorsport for over three decades,” he said.
“We have built what we believe is the best possible vehicle to take on the Dakar Rally. The car, designed specifically for extreme desert conditions, has undergone rigorous testing to prepare it for what it will face.”
The 2021 Dakar Rally differs from last year’s race which was a quest of discovery. The 2021 route will be a journey of exploration. It will be a 12-stage extreme off-road race covering a distance of more than 7,500km in a loop starting and finishing in the Saudi city of Jeddah. The rally starts on January 3 and concludes on January 15.
Across all classes, 295 vehicles have entered and among the 501 participants, 16 will be women, three more than a year ago.
Two cars will be competing for Bahrain, one driven by French rally legend Sebastien Loeb and the other by two-time Dakar winner, Nani Roma.
“With Sebastien Loeb and Nani Roma behind the wheel of each car, we are confident we have a package to really compete in our first Dakar,” added Richards.
A Prologue stage of 11km on January 2 will decide the running order for the first stage, and there will be a rest day on January 9 in Ha’il.
Competitors will traverse a total of 7,646km (4,751 miles), of which 4,767km (2,962 miles) will be timed, signifying a small reduction compared with the 2020 race.
According to Dakar director David Castera, the hardest stage will be the 11th and in the first week, there are two or three difficult stages. The rhythm will also change between each stage.
As in previous years, the 2021 Dakar will feature a ‘Marathon’ stage, in which competitors will have to go without team assistance, covering stages seven and eight (January 10-11) from Ha’il to Neom, with a camp in Sakaka.
The longest stage of the rally will be the fourth, running between Wadi Ad-Dawasir and Riyadh (813km, of which 337km are timed), while the special with the most kilometres will be the penultimate, between Al-Ula and Yanbu (511km timed).
In addition to strict Covid-19 protocols, involving several PCR tests before arriving in Saudi Arabia and in the days prior to the start of the rally, there will be a 48-hour quarantine upon arrival and social distancing measures.
An electronic road book (in the form of a tablet) will also be introduced 10 minutes before the start of all stages to cars, trucks and SSV and 20 minutes before for motorcycles.
Further safety precautions have been put in place for motorcyclists as well after the deaths of motorcycle riders Paulo Goncalves and Edwin Straver in the 2020 edition. A mandatory airbag vest will be introduced for all participants in the motorcycle and quad classes.
Bahraini Salman Mohammed will be representing the kingdom in the motorcycle class and he has been participating in an intensive training camp under the supervision of Emirati champion Mohammed Al Balooshi at the MX-Academy Dubai. Training commenced in the beginning of October and is currently being continued in Bahrain.
During last year’s rally, Mohammed was lauded for his outstanding performance and sportsmanship when he stopped racing to help an injured racer, as well as another competitor who faced motorcycle malfunction during the race.
For details on the rally, visit www.dakar.com