In a move to redefine its image and enter the world of motorsports, Dacia, known for its no-frills affordable vehicles for the masses, has announced its participation in the Dakar Rally and the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) starting in 2025. The brand aims to tackle some of the world's most challenging terrains with the introduction of its contender, the Sandrider.

Inspired by the 2022 Manifesto concept car, the Romanian brand collaborated with the sporting expertise of Renault Group and UK-based Prodrive to develop the race machine specifically for rally-raids. The prototype, designed with a keen focus on agility and weight in the Ultimate T1+ category, is also one of the most powerful vehicles in Dacia's entire history.

Gallery: 2024 Dacia Sandrider Prototyp

Power comes from a 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo engine with a direct injection engine producing 360 horsepower at 5,000 rpm. The mill runs on synthetic fuel, which is a combination of renewable hydrogen and sequestered CO2. A six-speed sequential transmission sends the power to all four wheels. There’s a 17-inch aluminum wheel fitted with a BF Goodrich 37-inch tire on each corner. 

Aerodynamics also played a crucial role in the Sandrider's development, with engineers achieving a 10 percent reduction in drag and a 40 percent decrease in lift compared to comparable prototypes. The emphasis on heat management in extreme conditions led to the integration of anti-infrared pigments in the carbon body panels filed as a patented process.

The Sandrider is set to undergo extensive development tests in various countries before making its motorsport debut at the Rallye du Maroc 2024, part of the World Rally-Raid Championship. Dacia's official W2RC team, the Dacia Sandriders, will participate in their first Dakar Rally and other legs of the World Rally-Raid Championship in 2025.

The team has a remarkable lineup of experienced and talented drivers. Sébastien Loeb, a nine-time World Rally Championship winner, will be joined by co-driver Fabian Lurquin. Cristina Gutierrez Herrero, an accomplished cross-country rally driver, and her co-driver Pablo Moreno Huete bring their expertise to the team. Nasser Al-Attiyah, a five-time World Cup winner for Cross-Country Rallies and two-time World Rally-Raid Championship winner, adds a touch of Dakar legend to the roster.

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