Dacia and motor sport: an unusual combination, but not a new one. The first Duster was seen racing on ice, before its official debut in 2010. And who doesn't know the (unofficial) race team with the old Logan at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring? 

Returning to the Dakar, the 'Dacia Sandriders' team has completed its first phase of testing as part of the ongoing preparations for the next legendary rally. The brand is therefore entering professional motor sport by taking part in the ultimate challenge, during the month of January 2025.

Dacia Sandrider (2024): first Dakar tests completed

Dacia Sandrider (2024)

After a systems check at Millbrook Proving Ground in the UK, the team spent four days at Sweet Lamb Proving Ground in Wales, Great Britain, from 6 to 9 May 2024. The team then travelled to the Château de Lastours in France for a further four days of intensive testing (from 27 to 31 May), where the three drivers had the opportunity to test the Sandrider, fitted with BFGoodrich tyres, on rocky and difficult terrain.

Cristina Gutiérrez took the wheel of the car for two days in Wales before Sébastien Loeb, a nine-time world rally champion, took over testing and development duties. He drove for a day and a half, while Cristina was deployed for the final afternoon.

Nasser Al-Attiyah, multiple Dakar winner, also had the opportunity to put his sand driving skills to the test over two days at the Château de Lastours.

Dacia Sandrider (2024): first Dakar tests completed

Dacia Sandrider (2024)

The excitement can be felt

Tiphanie Isnard, head of the Dacia Sandriders team, confirmed that the first phase of testing had exceeded expectations and that Al-Attiyah, Gutiérrez and Loeb as well as the engineers and technicians on site had only a few minor challenges to resolve.

Before the next full test in Morocco (28 June to 5 July), where the Sandrider will be driven over terrain similar to that of the legendary Dakar Rally, a great deal of work is now underway. In the meantime, Nasser Al-Attiyah looks back on his test of the Dacia:

"For me, the test at the Château de Lastours was the first time I'd jumped into the Dacia Sandrider and been able to test it. I found it easy to drive, fast and solid. We covered 270 kilometres on the first day and the same distance on the second day, there were no problems and we really enjoyed it. We're well prepared for the next tests and I can't wait to get to Morocco. "

Philip Dunabin, the technical director, agrees:

"We've now completed a series of tests before heading to Morocco in a few days' time for our tests in a real rally environment. So far, everything has gone surprisingly well, with no major problems. We've also been able to work a lot more on the suspension set-up than expected. The duration of the test was also sufficient to test different transmission settings."

"The suspension was thoroughly overhauled not only during the Sweet Lamb tests, but especially during the Château de Lastours tests. It all looks very positive, as there are just a few things we can tweak quite quickly. Despite all the euphoria, we still have a lot of work to do to get the Dacia Sandrider back into race condition. Everyone in the team is now working hard to prepare well for Morocco and we're really looking forward to continuing our preparations for the Dakar soon."