Renault Group brand Dacia will enter the Dakar Rally from 2025.
Romanian manufacturer Dacia has announced its plans to enter the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), including the Dakar Rally.
Alongside announcing the programme, Dacia has confirmed its drivers who will lead the programme: nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez. Loeb and Gutiérrez were team-mates at Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team when they won the Extreme E championship last year.
Dacia T1+ model yet to confirmed
Dacia is yet to announce what model will be used for its Dakar T1+ prototype. Toyota and Audi are currently the main manufacturers competing at the Dakar and W2RC in the T1+ class. Ford will join Toyota and Audi in the Rally-Raid’s top class with its Ranger T1+. Test rallies are planned for the Baja Aragón and the Rally du Maroc before the tackling next year’s Dakar Rally. The Ranger T1+ is developed in partnership with M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsport.
Loeb: “I did it six or seven times, a few times on the podium, but never in first place.”
Loeb is seeking his first Dakar Rally win. The record WRC champion finished four times on the podium at the world’s toughest rally, of which three times in second place, but never made the top step: “I am very happy, the Dakar is now my main goal.
“I did it six or seven times, a few times on the podium, but never in first place, so I hope to fight to win, and with the support of Dacia, with a real project from a car manufacturer, it is excellent news for me. I’m sure we will do nice things together.”
Gutiérrez said: “I have been in motorsport for 14 years, but the next few years are very special for me because I will be joining Dacia, and my dreams are coming true.
“I want to thank everyone who has been with me, and I am sure I will work to achieve the best results and memories for Dacia, I hope you enjoy it with me.”
Commenting on its Dakar programme, Dacia CEO Denis le Vot said: “It’s a test bed for new engines and driving solutions, but what people may not know is that yesterday’s Dakar is no longer today’s Dakar, it’s becoming a laboratory for low-carbon mobility.
Another reason we are taking part is because this race is like us, Dacia’s DNA fits with the Dakar, and vice versa. The race is a human, sporting and technical adventure, and Dacia is also an adventure, so we will go where you don’t expect, we will blaze our own trail, and the three characteristics of the brand fit together.”
Dacia T1+ project to be developed in cooperation with Prodrive
Loeb competes since 2021 in the Dakar Rally for Bahrain Raid Xtreme (BRX) with the Hunter T1+, developed and run by Prodrive. Loeb’s ties with Prodrive won’t end as Dacia’s T1+ project will be developed by Renault Group’s in-house technical expertise in cooperation with Prodrive. It’s unconfirmed as of now whether Prodrive will continue its development with the BRX Hunter after 2024.
Photo: Dacia Media