Renault appears to be looking to get back into rally raid. On Friday, a report from France Info revealed the company is planning to enter the 2025 Dakar Rally under its Dacia brand, likely a prototype hybrid version of the Dacia Duster.
The French make was one of the original manufacturers at the Dakar Rally, winning the overall in just the race’s third edition in 1982 with Claude Marreau piloting a Renault 20. Over a decade later, Renault prepared a buggy for Jean-Louis Schlesser, who won back-to-back in 1999 and 2000. Renault’s activities went silent at the turn of the millennium before Dacia made its Dakar début with Emiliano Spataro in 2013. Spataro’s Duster received limited support from Renault and the programme lasted through 2018, with his best finish being fourteenth in 2014. Today, Riwald Dakar Team fields modified Renault C460 trucks in the T5 category.
According to France Info’s story, Renault had hoped to race Dakar with Lada until fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 led to Renault selling its majority stake back to the Russian government. While Lada has not seen an entrant at the Dakar Rally proper since the 1980s, its cars from that era like the Niva are used in the adjacent Dakar Classic for historic vehicles.
Renault CEO Luca de Meo has long been open about pursuing programmes in rally raid and the World Rally Championship if conditions were right, while Davide Brivio, the racing director for Renault’s Alpine F1 Team, attended multiple stops on the 2022 World Rally-Raid Championship calendar including the Rallye du Maroc and Andalucía Rally. Brivio had also reportedly planned to head to the 2023 Dakar Rally during the rest day but backed out at the last minute. Further adding to the company’s seemingly growing Dakar pedigree, Alpine’s executive director Bruno Famin won the 2016 through 2018 Rallies as Peugeot Sport’s boss.