Bentley may introduce the EXP 9F Racers in 2013 Dakar rally

Wednesday 23 May 2012, 10:40 AM by

British car maker Bentley is planning to enter the much awaited 2013 Dakar rally. The auto giant is in talks with the private teams to buy back the Volkswagen's Dakar winning Race Touaregs (RT), which were sold to these teams. In the next year’s race, Bentley may introduce EXP 9F racers, the purpose-built off-road machines.

Winners of the 2009-2011 Dakar rally, the racing Touaregs were sold by the company to the private teams, since Volkswagen took back its factory support to lay emphasis on World Rally Championships (WRC). Bentley is working on its own design for the front and rear end to make EXP 9F look different from Volkswagen's Touareg. The car is supposed to be redesigned before it is launched.

In the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, the concept of the EXP 9F was revealed by the company and was expected to be priced at 1,40,000 pounds. The 4x4 luxury vehicle is yet to get approval for production. Even though, a production version may not be in sight for next couple of years, the British car maker intends to build its brand equity prior to its launch. Hence, there can’t be any better platform than the Dakar rally.

The method is an effective time tested by VW on both its Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV), namely Porsche Cayenne and Touareg which were both raced. While Dr Wolfgang Dürheimer was the tech chief at Porsche, company modelled Cayenne S Transsyberia to race in the Transsyberian rally. Volkswagen went a step ahead to develop RT prototype to compete in Dakar.

Head, Research and Development (R&D), Bentley, Rolf Frech confesses that the Range Rover was a better off-roader compared to EXP 9F. However, the car maker is adamant on establishing the advantages of the luxury RT with rich buyers, in order to attain annual sales target of 3,000 units.

The Touareg featured a twin turbo 2.5 litre diesel engine which churned out power below 300 hp and 600 Nm of torque. For the 2011 rally of Dakar, it is not known yet, whether the Bentley racers will engage the same model in the 2013 Dakar rally. However, the commercial EXP 9F will sport a twin-turbo 6.0 litre W-12 unit borrowed from the continental. On the other hand, the car maker may also offer a twin turbo 4.0 litre V8 and a supercharged V6 plug-in hybrid variant.

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