Currently reading: Zarooq Sand Racer revealed
UAE-based off-roader will be offered with up to 500bhp – and in competition and road-going specifications

This is the Zarooq Sand Racer, a new off-road vehicle from the United Arab Emirates. It has been designed for long rally ‘raid’ events, such the famous Dakar Rally, and recreational sand duning but will be also offered in non-competition trim.

Launched on the eve of last weekend’s Abu Dhabi GP, the Sand Racer is a composite-bodied two-door ‘SUV coupé’ that’s 4.2 metres long - just a little shorter than a Ford Focus. It’s powered by a rear-mounted 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine producing 304bhp in standard trim, although 400bhp and 500bhp versions will be offered as upgrades.

Only the rear wheels are driven - and through an automatic gearbox - but while this may sound unusual for an off-roader, it is the choice of a surprisingly large number of Dakar racers.

The Sand Racer has been developed in conjunction with Campos Racing, a Spanish operation that has enjoyed success in GP2 and Formula Three. The car’s aggressive styling is the work of Anthony Jannarelly, whose previous creations include the Lykan and Fenyr for Arab manufacturer W Motors.

Zarooq is claiming a kerb weight of just 1000kg for the Sand Racer, although road-going versions will have a range of luxury upgrades that are likely to add to that figure. These include an infotainment system, carbonfibre trim in the cabin, more comfortable seats, paint and potentially bespoke bodywork.

Zarooq claims the Sand Racer will form the basis of a one-make off-road racing championship and that it was originally designed to support a new off-road experience centre in Dubai. No production figures or prices have been released but the company has already said it intends to homologate the Sand Racer for road use. Early speculation suggests that Zarooq will build 20 examples of the car in 2016, with prices starting from around $100,000 (£66,000). 

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Bullfinch 1 December 2015

You say Zarooq

I say Zarroq. Let's call the whole thing off. Definitely let's. It's horrible.