Guerlain Chicherit’s Green Corp Konnection team will run a bioethanol powered Prodrive Hunter in the next two editions of the Dakar Rally as well as the 2023 World Rally Raid Championship.
Chicherit will pilot an identical Hunter to that of the Bahrain Raid Xtreme outfit, with whom Sébastien Loeb took to second place in this year’s event in Saudi Arabia.
The Frenchman will make his debut in the car on next month’s Rallye du Maroc, the penultimate round of this year’s W2RC season.
GCK will continue the development of its hydrogen-powered vehicle, the GCK e-Blast H2, which will be driven on the Dakar for the first time in 2024 by Philippe Croizon.
But over the next two years, the team and its founder Guerlain Chicherit will run a bioethanol-powered Hunter in conjunction with British organization Prodrive to gain experience ahead to aid the hydrogen car’s development.
“As our ambition is to arrive at the Dakar in 2025 with a hydrogen race engine, it can’t happen overnight,” said Chicherit. “So, myself and my team need to drive the car. This year I was full of ambition, I was fast when the car was working well, unfortunately I made some mistakes and we made some navigational errors, because I wasn’t in my rhythm and there were some misunderstandings between Alex and myself.
“It’s just sometimes the cohesion is not quite there, and you have to manage all of that. And so, in order to really have a chance in 2025, if the car performs well, the crew and the team have to be ready. So, that means all the running during this learning phase is very important.”
The decision to run the Hunter will also give the team an opportunity to run a four-wheel-drive car after struggling with the rear-wheel-drive Peugeot 3008 this year.
“I was happy to be back at the Dakar earlier this year. Unfortunately, we were made only too aware of the handicap two-wheel drive cars like our GCK Thunder have to deal with,” said Chicherit. “So, this time, we’ve opted for AWD.
“Competition is stiff. At least ten cars are capable of winning. But I think we are in with a chance of being out in front, especially as the course is difficult, very sandy, which is what I like, so I hope that we can clinch it.
“Whatever happens, the Prodrive program will be beneficial to GCK Motorsport because it is part of a learning curve. The team needs to build up the confidence to take a hydrogen car to the top in the future.”
While different to the hydrogen-powered vehicle it eventually intends to run, the Hunter does fit with the GCK’s ecological stance, running on sustainable fuel made from agricultural waste that emits 80% less greenhouse gas than conventional gasoline.
The move also reunites GCK and Prodrive after they collaborated during the 2018 World Rallycross season. Prodrive built a trio of Renault Renault Mégane R.S. RXs for the team and ran them during that first year before GCK took the program in-house in collaboration with fellow French team G-Fors.
Chicherit will not be the only driver using customer Prodrive machinery on next year’s Dakar. Vaidotas Žala (pictured above) – who has previously competed for Mini and in a privateer Toyota with Overdrive Racing – will drive under the Teletonika Racing banner.
Žala caused a stir during the 2020 Dakar when he won the Prologue, becoming the first Lithuanian driver to win a stage on the classic rally raid. His best finish was 11th this year.