British motorsport and engineering group Prodrive has been around since 1984 and over the years has built numerous successful race and rally cars. We're talking the Porsche 911 SC RS of the 1980s, Subaru Impreza WRX World Rally cars of the 1990s and 2000s, and an assortment of GT cars for Aston Martin and other teams. Now it's turning its attention toward the grueling Dakar Rally.
Back in February, Prodrive teamed up with Bahrain, more specifically the country's Mumtalakat sovereign wealth fund, the owner of McLaren, to establish the new subsidiary Prodrive International whose task was to design and manufacture a bespoke off-roader for the Dakar Rally.
The first images of the vehicle, known as the BRX T1, were released Monday along with confirmation that the Prodrive-developed off-roader will be ready in time for the 2021 Dakar Rally which will be held in Saudi Arabia. The Middle Eastern country also hosted the 2020 rally, where the Bahrain-sponsored JCW X-Raid team claimed victory thanks to the efforts of Carlos Sainz, Sr. and Lucas Cruz.
Prodrive's BRX T1 Dakar Rally contender
This time, Bahrain and Prodrive will have their own team, BRX (Bahrain Raid Xtreme). It will be run by Prodrive founder David Richards and field two T1s in Dakar's premier T1 class. Prodrive is also willing to build additional examples for any interested customer teams, and there's also the possibility of a road-going example being developed should demand be sufficient.
The BRX T1 is powered by a mid-mounted V-6 displacing 3.5 liters and featuring turbocharging. Drive is to all four wheels, and for the exterior, Prodrive tapped the Callum design studio established last year by former Jaguar designer Ian Callum. The first prototype is currently being assembled at Prodrive's headquarters in Banbury, United Kingdom.
You might be wondering why Bahrain is backing its own Dakar entry. According to Khalid Al Rumaihi, who heads the Mumtalakat sovereign wealth fund, it's part of Bahrain’s desire to showcase the Middle East to the world.