Prodrive is set to field seven hunters in the 46th Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia and is aiming for a first-ever win with a team that includes Nasser Al-Attiyah and Sébastien Loeb.
One of the hardest challenges Prodrive has encountered in its forty-year stint at the pinnacle of the world championship will come in the form of the 2024 Dakar Rally. In January 2024, seven Prodrive Hunter cars in the recently introduced “Ultimate” class will embark on an epic journey through Saudi Arabia, from the north to the enormous deserts of the “Empty Quarter” in the south.
It is anticipated that the Dakar 2024’s 7,891 kilometers would rank among the hardest and longest of the race’s third edition.
Two of the most prominent personalities in motorsport, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Sébastien Loeb, will be fielded by Prodrive. Al-Attiyah joins Prodrive for his first major rally-raid event after competing in two smaller Bajas in the Hunter in November as Loeb starts his fourth year with the Banbury-based outfit.
Returning to the well-known sands of the United Arab Emirates, Al-Attiyah easily defeated known opponents in the Dubai International Baja, gaining valuable test mileage ahead of 2024 Dakar and bolstering his confidence behind the wheel of his new Hunter challenger.
In the BRX Team Prodrive Hunter, Loeb led the title hunt until halfway through the 2023 World Rally Raid Championship, when terrible luck caught up with him and cost him the victory. However, they hope to improve on their two second-place finishes from the previous two Dakars with co-driver Fabian Lurquin.
“Together with Prodrive, we have achieved some good results, but for me, the Dakar is my goal,” said Sébastien Loeb. “To get the best out of the big stages, Fabian and I will work hand in hand to get the speed and navigation right and avoid mechanical problems.
“However, there are always a few hidden things on the Dakar that we will piece together over the course of the huge adventure that this rally always entails.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
At the 2023 Dakar, Loeb/Lurquin started off strongly with seven wins on 14 stages, including an unprecedented six wins in a row. Actually, Guerlain Chicherit’s brown/orange Prodrive Hunter won two of the 14 stages, giving the car a total of nine victories.
Al-Attiyah is aiming for his sixth Dakar victory with four different manufacturers. With 47 stage wins to his credit, he is only three wins shy of Ari Vatanen’s all-time record from the early 1990s. The reason for his success in off-road motorsport is his partnership with co-driver Mathieu Baumel; the two will represent ‘Nasser Racing’ in the 2024 Rally Raid championship.
“When I drove the Prodrive Hunter for the first time, I was very happy with how the car behaved at high and low speed, so I immediately felt familiar behind the wheel,” said Nasser Al-Attiyah.
“Obviously the Dakar is a target for us for another win in another car and hopefully we can get closer to Stephane Peterhansel’s Dakar win record.
“We have prepared well with the team and believe we have a good chance at the start in AlUla.”
The Brazilian X-Rally team will take on the Dakar with a pair of Prodrive Hunters after a year of getting to know the cars’ versatility as well as performance in Mexico, Brazil, and Morocco—where Cristian and Marcos Baumgart placed in the top three.
The Sertoes Rally in Brazil was one of the toughest challenges the X-Rally cars faced in 2023. The team’s strength and perseverance were put to the test on the blazing heat, winding circuits and mud which helped them prepare for the 2024 Dakar.
The YunXiang China Team’s 2023 Taklamakan Rally in China was another tough rally where Prodrive entered a Hunter. Driver Sun Ping navigated the car through some of the most challenging terrains.
Liu Feilong/Yicheng Wang, Sun Ping/Liao Min and Zi Rong/Pan Hong Yu are the three new Prodrive Hunters that the YunXiang team is bringing to Dakar 2024. They are all eager to lead the ever-expanding movement to take on the 2024 event.