Dacia reveals Loeb’s 2025 Dakar challenger

Built by Prodrive, the Sandrider will make its W2RC debut later this year

Sandrider – Exterior – Dacia (Embargoed 30.01.24 09h45am UK) (9)

Dacia has taken the virtual covers off its new rally-raid prototype – the car with which it will make its Dakar debut in 2025 with nine-time World Rally champion Sébastien Loeb as one of three factory drivers.

Christened the “Sandrider”, the car is based on the brand’s Manifesto SUV concept car, and will be built by experienced British outfit Prodrive, with support from the sporting arm of the Renault Group.

The Sandrider, which will be built to Ultimate T1+ Cars class regulations, will undergo extensive testing following an initial shakedown in England this April. It will make its competition debut on October’s Rallye du Maroc, the final round of the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship, where all three crews will be present.

The Dacia Sandriders team will then embark on its assault on the Dakar next year, as well competing in a full 2025 W2RC campaign. Dacia has committed to a two-year world championship program, running the Sandrider until at least the 2027 edition of the Dakar.

Sandrider - Exterior - Dacia (Embargoed 30.01.24 09h45am UK) (5)

Powered by a three-liter V6 twin-turbo engine taken from Nissan, where it’s used in a road-going application in the Nissan Z sportscar, and using sustainable Aramco synthetic fuel, the car marks the Romanian company’s first official motorsports program.

The quality of the squad’s driver line-up demonstrates Dacia’s committment to achieving success in the world’s toughest rally-raid event. As the brand announced last December, the team will be led by Loeb and five-time Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Loeb indicated he’d received proposals to change teams but rejected them to remain with Prodrive.

“It was not difficult to choose this project. It’s a real professional project with investment with Dacia,” said Loeb. “I had for sure different opportunities but to use the experience of our actual car with a brand new project, it optimises the chances of winning the Dakar. So the choice was quite easy for me.”

Both drivers competed for the Prodrive team on this year’s event; Loeb challenged for victory before several punctures over the event’s final two days relegated him to third, while Al-Attiyah quit the Dakar at the mid-way point, refusing to drive his Prodrive Hunter any further after suffering a string of issues with his machine which knocked him out of contention.

The team’s third driver will be Cristina Gutierrez, who took victory in the Challenger class on Dakar 2024, becoming only the second woman in history to achieve a class win on the event.