Dacia Sandrider is Sébastien Loeb's 2025 Dakar challenger

30th January 2024
Ethan Jupp

It’s always entirely odd when a value brand goes a bit extravagant, but almost always awesome. The Dacia Sandrider, set to take on the Dakar rally in 2025, is no exception. Yes, Dacia, builder of some of the cheapest new cars money can buy, that trades heavily on offering the essentials, is building a bespoke racing car.


No, the Sandrider isn’t a Duster in Dakar-ready drag, it’s the real deal. Built for the famous desert dash and indeed the 2025 World Rally Raid Championship at large, it features a bespoke tubular steel chassis clothed in minimal carbon bodywork that’s been optimised for as little material use as possible. In fact, the design of the Sandrider does seem to drag into the realms of motorsport reality that of the whacky but minimalist Manifesto concept. Weight and aerodynamics have been a priority of development, with 15kg lopped out so far and drag and lift reduced by 10 and 40 per cent respectively.

Powering it is a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine good for 365PS (265kW) and 539Nm (398lb ft) of torque, mounted in the middle. Obviously that punch is put to the ground via a six-speed sequential transmission through all four wheels shod in enormous sand-scooping 37-inch BF Goodrich tyres, which can hop up and down in the open arches by up to 350mm.


On the inside, the minimalist almost cubist vibe is realised even more, with easy-use, easy-access onboard tools and instruments. The Sandrider is pioneering a few innovations too including development of anti-infrared pigments in the bodywork that reduce cabin temperatures. The seats are also upholstered in anti-bacterial, humidity-regulating fabrics. There’s also anti-reflective paint used on the upper part of the dash to optimise driver visibility, as well as a shaped, tapered nose to give the occupants the perfect view out.

The drivers have been a key part of the process of developing the Sandrider, from concept to reality. Their experience makes that unsurprising, given Sébastien Loeb is one of the drivers in question, alongside rally driver Cristina Gutierrez Herrero and two-time WRRC Champion Nasser Al-Attiyah.


Loeb joins Dacia from Prodrive who, incidentally, have been working with Dacia on the Sandrider. The Sandrider will by vying for outright victory at the Dakar in 2025, conforming to Ultimate T1+ regulations. Its competition debut will come at Rallye du Maroc, the Moroccan leg of the 2024 World Rally Raid Championship in October.

The Sandrider is a very clear execution of the Dacia ethos. It’s set to be a participant in something as gratuitous as motorsport, a first for Dacia, but it’s doing so in a way that explores ideas of minimalism and necessity, cutting out all but the essentials. We love to see it.

  • Dacia

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