By Gavin Gibbon
Prodrive International car will challenge in the top level T1 class in next year's race in Saudi Arabia
Bahrain is set to run its own team in the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia from 2021.
The move comes following the creation of Prodrive International, a joint venture between Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, the sovereign wealth fund of the kingdom, and British motorsport and engineering group, Prodrive.
The Prodrive International car, specifically developed for the Dakar Rally, will compete in the top level T1 class. Two rally cars will be manufactured and operated annually by Prodrive International who will also produce other customer cars and offer a range of performance parts and body kits as accessories for clients.
Khalid Al Rumaihi, Mumtalakat CEO, said: “Prodrive has participated in numerous regional and international motorsports events throughout its 30+ years of operation, winning six FIA World Rally Championships, five Le Mans titles and seven Middle East Rally Championships.
“We’re very proud of the rally’s move to the region and in partnering with Prodrive, we expand Bahrain’s significant motorsport heritage, having established the Bahrain International Circuit to host Formula One in the Middle East for the first time in 2004.”
Bahrain sponsored the winning car in this year’s inaugural Dakar Rally in the Middle East, a Mini JCW X-Raid, driven by veteran Spanish driver Carlos Sainz. The rally opened in Jeddah, and concluded in Riyadh.
David Richards CBE, founder and chairman of Prodrive, added: “It has been a long-held ambition of mine and Prodrive to compete in the Dakar Rally. To be able to do so with the Kingdom of Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, Mumtalakat, and in Saudi Arabia, makes the prospect even more special as the Middle East is where Prodrive started its motorsport journey in 1984.”