The motorsport year began immediately with one of its least forgiving events, the Dakar Rally. The 2022 edition started today. The grueling cross-country endurance rally is known for relentless attrition. Of the 310 entries to start the 2021 Dakar, 104 entries failed to finish. It’s also not uncommon for competitors to not make the start. However, missed starts are usually down to physically not reaching the rally, not the vehicle going up in flames.
The #251 Rebellion DXX RD Limited prototype buggy caught fire during the event shakedown on Wednesday near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. According to motorsport.com, the team suspects an oil leak onto the engine was the cause of the blaze. The prototype’s automated fire extinguisher system did deploy, but it simply wasn’t enough to suppress the flames.
The #251 DXX was to be driven by Alexandre Pesci, the President of Rebellion Timepieces and owner of Rebellion Racing. Stephan Khuni was to serve as co-driver alongside Pesci. You might be more familiar with Rebellion Racing’s presence in sports prototype racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship. The pair were still able to begin the rally today, just not with the #251. The #251 was one of two DXX prototype buggies that Rebellion entered. The other Rebellion DXX is the #215, driven by two-time Le Mans winner Romain Dumas and co-driver Rémi Boulanger.
Dumas elected to give up his car for his team’s owner. He cited that Pesci wasn’t able to finish the rally last year, and it was important for the team. Though, Romain Dumas won’t be without a ride for this year’s Dakar Rally. Nasser Al-Attiyah, three-time Dakar winner and Rebellion Timepieces ambassador, delivered from his native Qatar a Toyota Hilux prototype he used last season for Dumas to race in this Dakar.
During the competition, there’s the idea of “the Dakar spirit.” This is the idea where entrants might be competing against other drivers and riders, but the conditions are so harsh that the rally is also collaborative. Everyone is bound by camaraderie to assist each other. Nasser Al-Attiyah went above and beyond the Dakar spirit to keep Dumas in the rally. Good luck to all the competitors in this year’s Dakar Rally. You’re going to need it.