Dacia has announced that it will compete in the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) – and therefore the famed Dakar rally – from 2025.
It will do so in a prototype 4x4 co-developed with British specialist Prodrive, maker of the Hunter T1+ that finished second in the 2023 running of the Dakar. Dacia has not said how closely related its racer will be to its road cars, but by 2025 it will have a production version of the Bigster SUV and a new version of the Duster on sale.
Prodrive is perhaps best known for its involvement in the World Rally Championship, having run the Subaru World Rally Team between 1990 and 2008 and taking three drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles during that period.
Dacia said its involvement in the W2RC will allow it to test new ideas for 'outdoor functionality' – as go-anywhere ‘lifestyle’ branding becomes an increasingly core component of the brand – and more environmentally friendly powertrains.
“Not only is this a test of Dacia's true robustness, but it is also a showing of our commitment to low-carbon mobility,” said the firm’s CEO Denis le Vot.
Initially, the manufacturer will run its prototype racers on synthetic fuels supplied by Aramco, made by blending renewable hydrogen with captured carbon dioxide. The Saudi Arabian firm recently announced it would invest in Renault-Geely's new combustion-engine joint venture codenamed Horse, seeking to extend the project to hydrogen and synthetic fuel technologies.
Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez Herrero will take the helm of the Dacia 4x4s, with testing set to begin at next year’s Rally of Morocco.
Loeb is widely lauded as history’s greatest rally driver, having won nine consecutive WRC drivers’ titles between 2004 and 2012. He has participated in the Dakar since 2016 and achieved podium finishes in 2017, 2019, 2022 and 2023. A win continues to elude the Frenchman.