Loeb and Roma give Prodrive Dakar T1 test debut

Bahrain Raid Xtreme car kicks off Dakar 2021 preparation with test at Millbrook in the UK

Bahrain Raid Xtreme unleashes T1 vehicle at first test in Millbrook (1)

Sébastien Loeb and Nani Roma have driven Prodrive’s Bahrain Raid Xtreme Dakar Rally T1 car for the first time at a private test venue in England.

Between them, Loeb and Roma completed 1200 miles of running on a gravel section of the Millbrook proving ground.

The four-wheel drive, 3.5-liter turbocharged car has been built for the main T1 class of off-road prototypes and benefits from the extensive experience of the David Richards-run Prodrive operation.

Loeb, who signed for the squad after leaving Hyundai’s WRC team, said: “I could immediately feel the car had good balance and plenty of power. Even in the wet, very low-grip conditions, it was easy to control, and, with more testing, I think we can develop its potential.

“I am looking forward to getting out to the Middle East in November and to begin testing in the sand.”

BRX’s first confirmed driver Roma added: “Any driver will tell you, you know if you have a good car within a few minutes of getting behind the wheel and, for me, everything was positive: the brakes, the steering, the engine, the suspension.

“Every time we took the vehicle out, we learned something new. There is still a lot to do, but this is normal with such a new car.

“I did my best to try and break it, but I failed!”

The new V6 T1 moves to the dunes for the next phase of its test program next month.

The Bahrain Dakar project is Prodrive’s biggest off-road motorsport effort since its World Rally Championship heyday.

Loeb showed huge pace on his four Dakar attempts in Peugeots across 2016-19 but the WRC legend has yet to win the event.

Team-mate Roma has won it twice – in the motorcycle category in 2004 and in the car class for X-raid Mini 10 years later.

Words:David Evans

Photo:Bahrain Raid Xtreme