DAKAR is a lot of fun. Along with the Isle of Man TT, this is probably the most ink-intensive sports car race on the planet.
To win it, you need skill, guts and a little luck, racing for hours through sandstorms and camels in the vast desert.
Then you do it again the next day. And the days that followed. In 12 days.
But Dakar is quickly becoming the test bed for future technology as well as a driver’s mettle.
A little outfit called Prodrive – you’ve probably heard of them – is running the 3.5-liter V6 from the Ford GT supercar in their Hunter handcar.
Sounds thirsty, doesn’t it?
In fact, it is the greenest car available today because it runs on second-generation biofuels – the main component of which is agricultural waste – which reduces CO2 emissions by 80% compared to gasoline.
Plus, there’s no loss in performance. Or range. And it’s not stupidly expensive.
I hope Boris and his friends are reading this because my main point is, you can put this fuel in the Ford Fiesta right now.
Instead of shoving families into expensive electric cars that aren’t right for everyone, it seems politicians are short-sighted by not looking into this eco-fuel before telling us to buy one. cars with plugs.
Prodrive chief technical officer David Lapworth said: “Take your average electric car, which takes about 70,000 miles before you offset the CO2 generated to make it.
“And even then it’s not as green as you might think because we’re still getting our electricity from coal-fired power plants. The fastest win is sustainable fuel – and the millions and millions of cars on our roads could use it right now. “
That’s not to say Lapworth is anti-EV. He is not. He just thinks that the world’s politicians “have had all the unbelievable in terms of face”.
“If the world were run by engineers, scientists and mathematicians, etc., you would say, ‘Yes, first the power stations’,” he said.
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“Because 75% of CO2 comes from power plants and it is the power plants that power the steel works and factories, we need to convert them first.
“We can then continue to develop electric cars and LED lights because they won’t generate large volumes of CO2 just to make them.
“There is nothing wrong with the world moving towards electric cars. They are a perfectly fine solution. They work very well. But it’s been a big journey. And they are ignoring the fact that there are other short-term solutions.”
To put all of that into perspective, Prodrive calculates that it will save 28 tons of CO2 per car by using sustainable fuel on the Dakar. That’s a lot.
And Prodrive is running three cars.
The fuel was co-developed with the British company Coryton Advanced Fuels.
Coryton boss Andrew Willson said: “Sustainable fuels can be used in all types of cars that would normally run on petrol or diesel.
“There is no need for any changes to vehicles or infrastructure around refueling.
“Since we have a climate emergency, why don’t we make the changes easier as we transition to all-electric vehicles?
“We still emit millions of tons of CO2 from our existing cars every year.”
For you, Boris.
Dakar is my Everest
PRODRIVE boss David Richards is an impressive man.
He has won titles in WRC, F1, Le Mans, BTCC and his former F1 team has evolved into Mercedes.
But one thing missing from DR’s incredible CV is Dakar.
This is his second turn, with superstar driver Sebastien Loeb driving the beautiful Hunter T1.
“Everybody thinks of the different motor races as very special,” said DR. Some say it’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, it’s the Indianapolis 500, it’s the Monaco Grand Prix.
“But if you ask me, ‘What is Everest about motorsport? What is the hardest, most challenging motorsport event in the world? ‘
“It’s Dakar. Over 4,000 kilometers over some of the toughest terrain anywhere in the world. It’s phenomenal.
“To make a reliable car and to find a driver and co-driver to navigate it is equally difficult.
“So to win this, if we can win this a year, it will be the last feather in our hat.”
If you’re an old rally fan like me, you can see history repeat itself at Prodrive in Banbury.
The small private team goes up against the big guys – and wins – and then puts all that know-how into the customer’s car.
“This is just the beginning,” said DR. We’ve developed a customer vehicle, the Hunter Hyper, which you can come see in February. It’s the ultimate all-terrain vehicle.
“If you want to cross the Sahara, this is the car you will use. If you want to get across Africa in the fastest time ever, this is the car you will go for.
“We are developing another customer version of this Dakar, which has a slightly lower specification, and then we are working on the next smaller car, the T3 car. will be ready by 2024.
“For me, this is where the World Rally Championship was 30 or 40 years ago. So I find this very similar to our roots. ”
It was nice to see some of the old faces that have been at Prodrive since the Colin McRae/Subaru years.
- Prodrive is currently second in Dakar with two more days to go.
Ten things you should know as a car owner
https://www.thesun.ie/motors/8196923/dakar-future-tech-sustainable-fuels/ Dakar is rapidly becoming a testbed for future technologies such as sustainable fuels