DakarWorld Rally-Raid Championship

Dacia Sandrider wraps up initial testing phase

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Credit: MCH Photography

Ahead of its competition début at the Rallye du Maroc in October and the 2025 Dakar Rally, the Dacia Sandrider launched its initial testing phase in May. All three riders for the factory team—Nasser Al-Attiyah, Cristina Gutiérrez, and Sébastien Loeb—each split time driving and developing the new car at various instances throughout the month.

The Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire hosted systems checks before the first test commenced on 6–9 May at the Sweet Lamb testing complex in Wales with Gutiérrez and Loeb. Al-Attiyah got his first taste of the Sandrider on 27–31 May at Châteaux de Lastours in France alongside Loeb. Its first desert test will be in Morocco from 28 June to 5 July.

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

“The suspension had a real good going over not just during the test at Sweet Lamb but very much so in the test at Châteaux de Lastours. Now, we’ve got a lot of work cleaning up a lot of the details putting the car into a state that is ready to go on a rally. We managed to highlight one or two problems in terms of the crew’s installation inside the car that we want to make some improvements and they should also be in place before we do the tests in Morocco. Everything is looking really positive, only a couple of very minor things that we were able to work on quite quickly. Now everybody is working flat out preparing everything for Morocco and we are very much looking forward to continuing our Dakar preparations there.”

The team marks Renault Group‘s return to rally raid after fielding factory efforts under the eponymous marque in the 1980s and 1990s. The Sandrider, which is based on the Dacia Manifesto concept car, was unveiled in late January. Prodrive is overseeing the programme after previously developing the Hunter, with which Al-Attiyah currently leads the World Rally-Raid Championship.

Dubbed the Dacia Sandriders, the team will contest the full W2RC in 2025. They are conracted to operate through the 2027 Dakar.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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