BAHRAIN RAID XTREME TEAM DIRECTOR, DAVID RICHARDS – David led the development of motorsport in the Middle East, organising the very first rally in the region in Kuwait in 1976. After winning the World Rally Championship as a co-driver in 1981, he retired from active competition and devoted his attention to develop his motorsport business. He founded Prodrive in 1984 and today, it is one of the world’s leading motorsport businesses. David is leading the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team, as Team Director, steering the team through its first ever Dakar Rally.
What is so special about the Dakar?
David Richards (DR): There is a real camaraderie in the Dakar, in the bivouac all the drivers sit together in the evenings and catch up on how the day’s stage has gone. There is a real sportsmanship that you may not see in other sports, where the rivalry takes over. Here, all the teams help each other, for example, Carlos [Sainz] ran out of fuel on the road into service. When we saw him, we towed him out.
What are the unique challenges of the Dakar?
DR: Dakar brings with it so many unique challenges – from the physical effects on the drivers, to the cars needing to be completely rebuilt overnight, to all the travel and logistics. The team sleep in tents overnight, work on the car until at least 1am each evening before packing up the next day to travel up to 800km to the next service point. It’s non-stop – not for the faint hearted!
Why now to enter the Dakar Rally with a new team, Bahrain Raid Xtreme?
DR: When you look at motorsport events around the world and you look at the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans, Indianapolis 500 – the Dakar Rally stacks up against these as the ultimate motorsport event, the ‘Everest’ of motorsport. In that context, it has always been in the back of our mind.
DR: There was a change of regulations coming which allowed turbo petrol engines to be used. It’s always a good time to enter an event, when the rules are changing, because the existing participants don’t have a long-term advantage over you.
How does Prodrive’s experience help with Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s first entry into the Dakar Rally?
DR: We had people from the team attending last year’s event – myself included – and we do a lot of research. The homework you do beforehand makes all the difference when you get out here on the event. We have a wonderful team of people with amazing experience; from the mechanics, to the drivers to the logistics team, they’ve done an incredible job.