The brand new FIA rules that may come into pressure for the 2022 Dakar Rally and the brand new Cross-Nation World Championship have compelled the highest groups to switch their current 4×4 automobiles and adapt them to the brand new T1+ technical specs, as Autosport revealed earlier this year.
Thus, the 4x4s will now have 350mm of suspension journey in comparison with the present 280mm, 37-inch wheels in comparison with the earlier 35-inch wheels that induced a number of punctures within the first two editions of Dakar in Saudi Arabia, and a 2.3-metre lengthy chassis as an alternative of the two-metre model presently in use by the groups. The brand new vehicles may also be heavier, with the minimal weight going up from 1850kg to 1950kg.
All of that is essential to attempt to match the efficiency of the present equipment from Toyota, Ford and Prodrive with Audi’s new hybrid prototype, which is able to compete within the T1-E class however can battle for the general win in opposition to T1 and T1+ vehicles.
Prodrive employees in Banbury within the UK started assembling the primary unit of the brand new BRX Hunter T1+ in mid-August, beginning with the chassis, earlier than happening to suit the brand new suspension constructed to 2022 guidelines.
Within the last days of August, technicians completed constructing and becoming the carbon bodywork in Milton Keynes, the place the British staff’s composite facility relies.
Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter T1+
Picture by: Bahrain Raid Xtreme staff
On September 2-3, Nani Roma and Alex Haro accomplished greater than 200km of testing aboard the 4×4 prototype on the Candy Lamb part of Rally GB, a number of kilometres from Llanidloes in Powys, Wales.
The staff’s different driver, WRC legend Sebastien Loeb was collaborating in Rallye Mont Blanc with a Peugeot 306 Maxi the identical week and was therefore unavailable for testing duties.
“It was a shakedown to set every part up, to see that each one the programs had been working for the subsequent check in Morocco,” Roma advised Autosport.
“The change within the entrance windscreen has been very noticeable, it provides us much more visibility and we’ll discover it within the dunes.
“We have now discovered that, though it’s a lot larger and we thought it will be harder to drive on slender tracks, it really works effectively and with out issues on WRC levels.
“We’re proud of what now we have seen, however there may be numerous work forward as a result of there are numerous new issues when it comes to set-up, reliability and so forth.
“I believe now we have good materials and now now we have to see the way it goes in locations we all know, like Morocco. The sensation is kind of totally different to final 12 months’s, however there have been no negatives besides that you just really feel rather less energy as a result of it has extra weight. However we’re very completely happy and now it is time to work arduous.
“I hope that with the stability of efficiency they [FIA] can compensate for this lack of energy to be on par with Audi, particularly when it comes to pure acceleration, as all of us can be restricted to 170 km/h most.”
With the primary shakedown full, the Bahrain Raid Xtreme staff is off to Morocco, the place it’s going to start two intense weeks of testing within the desert and dunes to fine-tune the brand new Hunter T1+.
Roma and Haro will sharing the driving duties within the first week, earlier than Loeb will take over from them for his first outing within the new automotive together with new co-driver Fabian Lurquin.
The Prodrive-run staff plans to contest the Morocco Rally on October 8-13 earlier than heading to Saudi Arabia for a number of weeks of testing round Ha’il, and competing within the the Hail Worldwide Rally on December 6-11 as a last check earlier than the Dakar Rally subsequent January.
Audi Sport additionally started its first desert checks earlier this month with the all-new RS Q e-tron with which it’s going to make its Dakar debut with Mathias Ekstrom, Carlos Sainz and Stephane Peterhansel.
Toyota is the one one of many three manufacturing unit groups within the self-discipline that has not but revealed any renders or clues about its modified Hilux T1+ 4×4, which Autosport understands has been below growth since July in South Africa.