British motorsport engineering firm Prodrive has partnered with the Kingdom of Bahrain to develop a car to compete in the 2021 Dakar Rally.

The newly formed company Prodrive International will design and build the car in-house specifically for the demanding off-road event, with the aim of competing in the top-level T1 class. 

The car is in the early stages of development and will take inspiration from Prodrive’s extensive motorsport experience but little is known about its performance or off-road ability yet.

Prodrive International also intends to produce customer cars for other teams, as well as offer performance parts and bodykits as part of its operations.

Next year’s Dakar Rally will be the second to be held in Saudi Arabia, opening in Jeddah and concluding in Riyadh. Competing in the Middle East represents something of a homecoming for Prodrive, which claimed its first motorsport victory at the 1984 Qatar International Rally.

“It has been a long-held ambition of mine and Prodrive to compete in the Dakar Rally,” Prodrive founder David Richards said. “Dakar is a new and challenging project for Prodrive, but one that I and the whole team in Banbury are relishing.”

The Kingdom of Bahrain sponsored the winning car in this year’s Dakar event through its Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, with JCW X-Raid driver Carlos Sainz claiming his third Dakar win. 

“We’re very proud of the rally’s move to the region,” Mumtalakat CEO HE Khalid Al Rumaihi said. “In partnering with Prodrive, we expand Bahrain’s significant motorsport heritage.”

More details about the team and the new car will be revealed in March.