Dubai, UAE -: The return of the World Rally-Raid Championship to the UAE later this month has all the ingredients of another motor sport classic, with much attention inevitably focusing on the car which has made a record-breaking start to the year.
Sebastien Loeb’s six successive stage victories in the recent Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia at the wheel of a Prodrive Hunter eclipsed the event’s 34-year old record set by another of the sport’s legendary stars, Ari Vatanen.
Overall, Prodrive Hunters won nine of the 14 stages in the opening W2RC round, and Loeb’s display gave him, and Bahrain Raid Xtreme, the championship lead to take into round two, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge from 26 February to 3 March.
Little wonder that the nine-time World Rally Champion can’t wait to get back in action in the UAE, where a street legal version of the Prodrive Hunter is now available to drive on the road, as well as in the desert.
The rally feedback from Loeb and his BRX co-driver Fabian Lurquin helped Prodrive develop the new road going Hunter, the world’s first all-terrain hyper car. A limited number are being built in the UK to the individual specifications of select super car enthusiasts.
“Of course, our job is to try and win rallies, and after the results in Dakar, we’re excited about the championship, and look forward to the Desert Challenge which is another great test for us, the team, and the car,” said Loeb.
“I’m also hoping to drive the road version of the Hunter for the first time, and see how Prodrive have built a vehicle, based on rally car pedigree, for every-day use.”
The Hunter is a 600 bhp, four-wheel drive car, with 50% more power than the rally-bred version which has made BRX the team to beat in the Desert Challenge, and the rest of the W2RC series.
“There are four rounds left, and so much can happen in the championship over the next few months, so our aim is to use the experience we gained from the Dakar to try and win the Desert Challenge, and extend our lead,” said Loeb.
If he can find enough time in the UAE to test the Hunter hypercar, he won’t need to slow down in the desert. The vehicle accelerates from 0-100 kph in less than four seconds, and has a top speed of around 250 kph. It also has a comfortable cruising speed for drives downtown.