Loeb, Roma complete first BRX test ahead of Dakar

Sergio Lillo
·2 min read

Prodrive continues to work intensely on its Dakar project with a view to January 3, when the second Saudi Arabia-based edition of the legendary rally raid will begin.

After announcing Roma and Loeb as drivers for their debut on the Dakar, the squad completed its first kilometres last week with its four-wheel drive BRX T1 contender, which is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine producing 400bhp.

Using rough gravel tracks near Millbrook, not far from Prodrive's Banbury base, Loeb and Roma completed almost 2000km, the equivalent of nearly four stages of the Dakar.

"I managed to get a day testing the new car and I could immediately feel that it had good balance and plenty of power," commented Loeb. "Even in the wet and 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 to begin testing in the sand."

Two-time Dakar champion Roma added: "Any driver will tell you that you know whether 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. Of course, I did my best to try and break it, but I failed!"

The Prodrive-run team will continue its preparations for the Dakar in the Middle East, where it will set up its headquarters in the coming months and complete a series of tests in real desert conditions to get its 4x4 ready.

There is also the possibility of competing in one of the two Baja events that organisers are hoping to hold in Saudi Arabia in December, similar to those held in the run-up to the 2020 race with the presence of Toyota's Fernando Alonso and the X-raid Mini drivers.