In order to provide a level playing field between a wide variety of cars, including Audi’s new electric-powered RS Q e-tron, ASO has significantly changed the rules for the 44th Dakar in Saudi Arabia.

Mainly, the width of all 4×4 cars has been increased from 2m to 2.3m, and the suspension travel has been increased from 280mm to 350mm, while the tire size has been increased from 32 inches to 37 inches. .

After finishing in the top five on their Dakar debut earlier this year, the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team led by Prodrive have completely revamped their competitor under the new regulations, with the Hunter T1 + ECOpower featuring a body, improved drivetrain and suspension.

The outfit has also switched to a green biofuel which offers an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional gasoline.

Roma will be one of three drivers to represent the British team under the Bahrain flag in the next edition of the Dakar, joining World Rally Championship legend Sébastien Loeb and newcomer Orlando Terranova in an expanded three-car lineup. .

Asked about the impact of the new cars on his driving style, Roma told Autosport: “It’s a big problem. It forced me to learn a lot of new things, as riders who had raced with big wheels before used to tackle bumps, camel grass and tackle the track in a different way.

“I still need a bit more to make sure the wheel and suspension can go through certain places. I had to rebalance my driving style because now we can pass certain obstacles with a lot more speed than with the normal 4×4.

“But, on the other hand, we weigh 150 kg more, we have bigger wheels, more grip, and with the same engine, and that made us lose a little agility, especially in acceleration. This forces us to brake less and maintain more speed.

Nani Roma, Bahrain Raid Xtreme BRX T1 +

Photo by: Bahrain Raid Xtreme team

The Dakar Rally 2022 will take place entirely in Saudi Arabia like the two previous editions of the event, with a total of 12 stages spread over two weeks from January 1 to 14.

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However, in a major change from previous years, the marathon stage of the rally-raid will include stages 2 and 3, potentially leading to several early retirements.

Roma admits that the timing of the marathon “worries” him as the riders tend to take advantage of the opening days of the event to get used to the conditions at the time.

“That’s probably what worries me the most,” said the marathon Spaniard. “Already the second day, but at the first bivouac, you leave for the marathon.

“It’s worrying because people are always positioning themselves for the race. For me it is very important to get to the third day without a problem and then we can go more relaxed. A marathon usually takes place after the day off, but the good and the bad is that everyone is the same.

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