THE new Land Rover Defender is to be put through its paces in the 2021 Dakar Rally where a pair of the all-terrain SUVs will be used as crew vehicles.
The two Defender 110 models will provide support for the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team's two drivers, medical crew and support staff across the punishing 13-day, 12-stage, 4,778 mile event.
The 4x4 vehicles will have to negotiate extreme conditions, traversing desert dunes, mud, camel grass and rocks as they carry vital supplies, crew and equipment for the team and drivers.
BRX's driver line-up includes nine-time World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb, from France, and two-time Dakar Rally winner, Nani Roma, from Spain.
The showroom-standard models will also provide essential support for crew members, who will camp, eat and sleep in the P400 models across 12 gruelling stages of desert driving.
Powered by Land Rover's 400ps straight-six Ingenium petrol engine featuring mild hybrid electric vehicle technology, the two Dakar Defenders and are fitted with an Explorer Pack, which includes an expedition roof rack, raised air intake, wheel arch protection and exterior side-mounted gear carrier.
In addition, a deployable roof ladder provides easy access to a roof box, which will help the BRX team carry all the necessary kit.
Finbar McFall, Jaguar Land Rover customer experience director, said:"Land Rover has a unique Dakar pedigree having won the inaugural event in 1979, and the rally remains the ultimate all-terrain endurance test.
"While the Defenders won't be competing, they will have a vital role in supporting the team as they navigate their way across thousands of miles of punishing desert terrain. The fact these vehicles are unmodified is testimony to the intrinsic capability and durability of our legendary 4x4, which has undergone the most demanding engineering test and development programme in our history."
World-leading motorsport experts, Prodrive, are behind BRX and team principal,Paul Howorth, said:"The crew need to know our support vehicles will be able to carry all of the necessary kit and be relied upon to get to the next service location, whatever the conditions. New Defender provides a unique combination of all-terrain performance, rugged practicality and comfort - a crucial combination for the unpredictable Dakar conditions and after long days behind the wheel."
Following its world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2019, Land Rover has experienced unprecedented demand for the new Defender and since its debut, the 4x4 has won 28 international awards.
Land Rover has also introduced its range of in-line six-cylinder Ingenium diesel engines, featuring mild hybrid technology to the Defender line up as well as its advanced P400e plug-in hybrid powertrain, which provides an all-electric range of up to 27 miles and CO2emissions of 74g/km.
The Defender 90 Hard Top is priced from £35,820, the 110 Hard Top from £43,012 excluding VAT and the regular Defender 90 is priced from £43,625 with the 110 starting from £45,315.
The 2021 Dakar Rally is being held in Saudi Arabia and the 43 running of the event will run from January 3 to 15.