Dakar Rally 2024: Dacia Sandrider Enters Intensive Testing Phase

    In preparation for its competition debut at the Rallye du Maroc in October and the highly anticipated 2024 Dakar Rally, the Dacia Sandrider has entered its initial testing phase, which commenced in May. The team’s factory lineup, comprising Nasser Al-Attiyah, Cristina Gutiérrez, and Sébastien Loeb, have each taken turns behind the wheel, driving and developing the new car at various testing locations throughout the month.

    The first round of systems checks was conducted at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, before the team moved on to the Sweet Lamb testing complex in Wales from May 6-9, where Gutiérrez and Loeb had their first taste of the Sandrider. Al-Attiyah then joined Loeb at the Châteaux de Lastours facility in France from May 27-31, further refining the car’s performance.

    “So far, everything has gone astonishingly smoothly with no serious problems,” said Philip Dunabin, the technical director for the project. “We’ve managed to sign off all the basic things in terms of the engine, and we’ve done quite a lot more work than we expected on the suspension setup and the transmission settings.”

    The team’s focus has been on meticulously fine-tuning the Sandrider, with the suspension receiving a thorough evaluation during the tests at both Sweet Lamb and Châteaux de Lastours. Dunabin noted that the team has also identified a few minor issues with the crew’s installation inside the car, which they aim to address before the upcoming tests in Morocco.

    “Everything is looking really positive, with only a couple of very minor things that we were able to work on quite quickly,” Dunabin added. “Now everybody is working flat out preparing everything for Morocco, and we are very much looking forward to continuing our Dakar preparations there.”

    The Dacia Sandrider project marks Renault Group’s return to rally raid competition, having previously fielded factory efforts under the Renault marque in the 1980s and 1990s. The car is based on the Dacia Manifesto concept and is being overseen by Prodrive, the same team that developed the Hunter, with which Al-Attiyah currently leads the World Rally-Raid Championship.

    The Dacia Sandriders will contest the full W2RC in 2024, with a contract to operate through the 2027 Dakar Rally.

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