DAKAR is a lot of fun. Together with the Isle of Man TT, it is probably the craziest motorsport race in the world.
It takes skill, courage and a bit of luck to win it, and it races through sandstorms and herds of camels in the vast desert for hours.
Then you do it again the next day. And the day after. For 12 days.
But Dakar is quickly developing into a test bench for future technologies and the courage of the driver.
A little outfit called Prodrive – you may have heard of them – drives a 3.5-liter V6 from a Ford GT supercar in their Hunter buggy.
Sounds thirsty doesn’t it?
In fact, it is the greenest car around as it runs on second generation biofuel – agricultural waste is the main ingredient – which reduces CO2 emissions by 80 percent compared to gasoline.
There is also no performance penalty. Or range. And it’s not stupidly expensive.
Hope Boris and his cronies read this because my main point is that you can put this fuel into a Ford Fiesta right away.
Rather than pushing families into expensive electric cars that aren’t suitable for everyone, it seems shortsighted that politicians didn’t research this eco-fuel before asking us to buy a plug-in car.
David Lapworth, Prodrive Technical Director, said, “Take the average electric car, it’s about 70,000 miles before you offset the amount of CO2 that was used to make it.
“And even then it’s not as green as you think, because we still get electricity from coal-fired power plants. The fastest gain is sustainable fuels – and millions and millions of cars on our roads could use them now. “
That’s not to say Lapworth is anti-EV. It is not him. He just thinks that the world’s politicians “have everything in their heads”.
He said, “If the world were run by engineers, scientists and mathematicians, etc., one would say, ‘Exactly, power plants first’.
PERFECTLY GOOD SOLUTION
“Because 75 percent of the CO2 comes from power plants and the power plants provide the energy for the steelworks and factories, we have to convert them first.
“Then we can continue with electric cars and LED lights, because they don’t just produce massive amounts of CO2 for their manufacture.
“There is nothing wrong with the world moving towards electric cars. They are an absolutely good solution. They work very well. But it’s a huge journey. And they ignore the fact that there are other, short-term solutions. “
For comparison: Prodrive expects to save 28 tons of CO2 per car at the Dakar by using sustainable fuels. That is much.
And Prodrive runs three cars.
The fuel was developed jointly with the British company Coryton Advanced Fuels.
Coryton chief executive Andrew Willson said, “Sustainable fuels could be used in any car that would normally run on gasoline or diesel.
“Neither the vehicles nor the refueling infrastructure have to be changed.
“Given the climate emergency, why shouldn’t we make these simpler changes in the transition to fully electric vehicles?
“We still emit millions of tons of CO2 from our existing cars every year.”
To you, Boris.
Dakar is my Everest
PRODRIVE boss David Richards is an impressive man.
He has won trophies in WRC, F1, Le Mans, BTCC and his old F1 team has evolved into Mercedes.
But the only thing missing from D-R’s incredible résumé is Dakar.
This is his second attempt with superstar driver Sebastien Loeb, who drives the beautiful Hunter T1.
DR said, “Everyone feels different car races are very special. Some say it’s the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it’s the Indianapolis 500, it’s the Monaco Grand Prix.
“But if you asked me, ‘What is Motorsport Everest? What is the most difficult and demanding motorsport event in the world? ‘
“It’s the Dakar. Over 4,000 km over some of the most challenging terrain in the world. It is extraordinary.
“Building a reliable car and finding drivers and passengers to navigate is just as difficult.
“Winning that, if we can win this one year, is the ultimate feather in our cap.”
If you’re an old rally fan like me, you can watch history repeat itself at Prodrive in Banbury.
Small private team takes on the big ones – and wins – and puts all this know-how into customer cars.
DR said, “This is just the beginning. We developed a customer car, the Hunter Hyper, which you will be able to view in February. It’s the ultimate off-road vehicle.
“If you wanted to cross the Sahara, you would use this car. If you wanted to drive through Africa in the fastest time ever, this car would be your choice.
“We’re developing another customer version of this Dakar car, which will have a slightly lower specification, and then we’re working on the next smaller car, the T3 car, which will be ready in 2024.
“For me, the World Rally Championship was here 30 or 40 years ago. So I see this very strongly back to our roots. “
It was good to see some old faces who have been with Prodrive since the Colin McRae / Subaru years.
- Prodrive is currently in second place at the Dakar with two days to go.