After his own car caught fire during shakedown on Wednesday, Rebellion President Alexandre Pesci will compete in the 2022 Dakar Rally aboard his teammate Romain Dumas’ DXX prototype.
Pesci was scheduled to compete in his third consecutive Dakar with Rebellion, a former LMP1 race winner, as part of a two-car lineup for the Saudi Arabian event.
His chances of improving on a 43rd place finish were shattered, however, when his #251 DXX entry was engulfed in flames during the 10.7km shakedown near Jeddah, the rally-opening raid’s stage.
Dumas, the winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours, has now donated his #215 buggy to Pesci in order for the Rebellion team owner to be present on the starting grid for the 44th Dakar on Saturday. Stephan Khuni, his normal navigator, will accompany him on the two-week journey.
Despite the fact that Pesci will now pilot Rebellion’s sole remaining DXX buggy, Dumas will be able to compete in Dakar thanks to a last-minute deal to race the Toyota Hilux with which Nasser Al-Attiyah won the Hail Rally in Saudi Arabia earlier this month on his way to the FIA Cross-Country Rallies World Cup.
“Unfortunately, after the problem we had with the car, the #251, I decided to give him my car because Alexandre did not finish last year,” said Dumas.
“So for him it was very important to race again and try to see the [finish] line. At the end of the day Rebellion, this is the brand [I race for], so I said, ‘okay, I give you my car’.
“I decided not to drive. Thursday morning I had breakfast with Nasser Al-Attiyah, he told me I have a car I bought a car for my museum.”
“We found out this car was an 11-hour drive from here [in Doha], so during the day we sent somebody there to bring the car overnight. The car came this morning.
“What Nasser did is unbelievable and also his team.
“We are trying to prepare the car as much as possible, put some sticker on it, adjust my driving position. For sure I never drove the car.
“Now the Toyota team is here to help us a little bit because we don’t know nothing about the car. So we will try not to take time too much of them but we have to get some advice.”
Rebellion isn’t sure what caused the fire that destroyed Pesci’s initial car, but it believes a shock created an oil leak near the engine, which ignited due to extreme heat. Despite the fact that the automatic extinguisher system was triggered, the fire was uncontrollable, and it engulfed the entire vehicle.