Bahrain Raid Xtreme (BRX) took the rally world by surprise when it unveiled a Prodrive-developed, Ian Callum-designed racer for the 2021 edition of the Dakar Rally. Known as the Hunter, it struggled during the race due to a variety of problems, but it will return with a vengeance in 2022 after receiving a round of important updates.
Learning from past mistakes, Prodrive gave the updated Hunter 37-inch tires wrapped around 17-inch wheels (instead of the original racer's 32-inch tires and 16-inch wheels), more suspension travel, and a wider track. The suspension system's geometry has been reconfigured, while bigger brakes are mounted behind the upsized wheels. There's also a larger windshield and a programmable motor for the wipers.
Getting a flat tire is a common mishap in the Dakar Rally, so the Hunter's onboard jacks were made lighter, stronger, and faster to help pilots get back on the road as quickly as possible. They can also be powered using an electric pump. Power still comes from a Ford-designed, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 twin-turbocharged to about 400 horsepower.
Ian Callum, who ran Jaguar's design department until he retired in 2019, made subtle design tweaks to the new Hunter. He notably gave the front end a new look with four lights instead of two and drew wider body panels to accommodate the new chassis setup. The first and second Hunters are shown side-by-side in the gallery above.
Prodrive is currently building the first example of the updated Hunter at its headquarters in the United Kingdom, and testing is scheduled to begin in September 2021. Sebastien Loeb and Nani Roma will race the Hunter in the 2022 edition of the Dakar Rally, which starts on January 2 in Ha'il, Saudi Arabia, and ends in Jeddah 12 days later. In the desert, its competitors will include Audi's gasoline-electric RS Q E-Tron, among other off-roaders.
Interestingly, the Hunter could spawn a street-legal model that Prodrive previously described as a "Ferrari of the desert." It will be closely related to the Dakar-bound off-roader but it will receive a full interior and a 500-horsepower evolution of the twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine sourced from the Ford parts bin. It will be able to make considerably more power than the race car because the latter's output is capped by race regulations. It won't be cheap, as Prodrive previously pegged the model's price at over $1 million, but it will stand proud in a class of one.