Earlier this year, the kingdom of Bahrain has revealed the new team and car set to make their debuts in next year’s Dakar Rally.
The team called Bahrain Raid Xtreme (BRX) is the Kingdom of Bahrain’s latest foray into the motorsport world after its sovereign wealth fund, Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company (Mumtalakat), established Prodrive International, a joint venture with the world-leading British motorsport business, Prodrive.
The bespoke car, designed and built by Prodrive, is set to compete in the Dakar’s T1 category. In response to the latest Dakar Rally regulations and the likely terrain for the 2021 event, the team has chosen to create a four-wheel-drive car, powered by a 3.5-litre turbocharged petrol V6. Development of the car and engine has been underway at Prodrive since mid-2019, and the first car is currently being assembled in Banbury, UK.
The 4-wheel drive car has a high tensile steel structure, and a lightweight carbon fibre body, combined with a powerful V6 turbocharged engine to allow it to traverse the toughest terrain at high speed. To travel the vast distances across the longest stages of the Dakar Rally, the car carries up to 500 litres of fuel.
The BRX T1 car promises to be visually distinctive, with its striking red livery, combined with styling evolved by Callum Designs, headed by Ian Callum, one of the world’s leading automotive designers of the past 30 years and former design director at Jaguar.
Leading the project is David Richards CBE, founder and chairman of Prodrive, taking up the role of BRX Team Director. A World Rally Championship-winning co-driver in 1981, Richards was also instrumental in developing motorsport in the Middle East in the 1970s and 80s. Prodrive’s first venture was the Porsche rally team, which won the inaugural FIA Middle East Rally Championship in 1984.
Under his direction, Prodrive has since gone on to become one of the world’s most successful motorsport businesses, winning six world rally titles; five Le Mans titles; and running global motorsport for many of the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers. Richards personally led both the Benetton and BAR F1 teams, taking the latter to second in the F1 constructors’ championship in 2004.
Speaking after the team’s launch announcement, David Richards, the team Director has expressed his confidence of the team’s abilities: “When you look at sport and you look at those famous events – whether it’s the Superbowl in America, the World Cup Final in football – there are some that stand out above all others. In motorsport, I’d say the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500, the Le Mans 24-hour race, but I’d also say Dakar.”
‘It is quite interesting, you look at drivers like Alonso, potentially one of the greatest drivers of his era – he’s won at Monaco, he’s won at Le Mans and he’s tried to win Indianapolis, and he still wants to win Dakar. So that rather speaks for itself.’
This could be David Richards’ final project in motorsports, with a glittering career spanning over fifty years and the Team Director admits it is one of the biggest challenges in motorsport that has alluded him to date, ‘There is one challenge we [Prodrive] have never attempted. A challenge that everyone says is one of the most difficult ones. And that’s Dakar. And that’s still to come.’
The Dakar Rally was first established in 1978. The multi-stage annual race would normally begin in Paris, France and end in Dakar, Senegal, covering approximately 10,000sqkm over a period of about 16 days. Between 2009 and 2019, the race was relocated to South America and opened in Saudi Arabia for the first time this year. Rally cars race one at a time, against the clock, across multiple stages of the intense off-road terrain.