Carbon copy: Zarooq Sand Racer

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Zarooq Motors will unveil this year the first automobile designed for desert racing in the United Arab Emirates – the road legal Sand Racer

The first automobile designed for desert racing in the United Arab Emirates will emerge this year from Dubai. Startup Zarooq Motors is the brains behind the road legal Sand Racer and will also launch a dedicated single-make championship in the region.

“We started the business just over a year ago,” says Zarooq founder Mohammed Al Qadi. “The initial intent was to create a championship in order to promote motorsport and to find drivers for different race series in the future.”

With this in mind, Al Qadi says the Zarooq team considered potential projects: “Looking at what the market had to offer in terms of single make cars we couldn’t really find what we wanted, mostly because either the cars were not made for sand or they were completely open like sand rails and therefore not very practical for road or summer use. Also, a lot of off-road cars have a front engine, which can be a problem for balance when driving on sand, so we decided to develop our own car.”

Styling was done by JJ Special expert Anthony Jannarelly who designed the Lykan Hypersport used in action film Fast and Furious 7, and the racing-grade chassis was designed in collaboration with Campos Racing.

“It was important to find the right balance between the rigidity of the chassis and sufficient practicality in order to ensure the car is accessible because it will be bought by car enthusiasts as well as racing drivers,” noted Al Qadi.

Ensuring correct weight distribution of the vehicle was critical to ensure maximum performance when crossing sand dunes: “We also wanted the vehicle to weigh about a ton, which we have achieved. Its weight distribution is 40% to the front, 60% to the rear.” The engine is central-rear mounted and the suspension travel guarantees balance when jumping.

In August 2015, a prototype chassis had been completed. In December, the engine and the wiring were installed and molds for the body were also constructed. Simultaneously, the team conducted virtual tests using software supplied by Dassault Systèmes, which focused on structural solidity as well as crash safety. Track testing will be carried out in various locations in the UAE both on tracks and sand dunes such as those found at Liwa.

Production of the Sand Racer is scheduled for the end of Q1 2016. “We are the first proper UAE car manufacturer and we’ve been faced with the fact that there is not a proper supply chain unlike in Europe,” Al Qadi notes. “Also, from a regulation perspective, the homologation will be a discovery both for us and the authorities because they’ve never had to deal with homegrown cars.”

Zarooq is also investing in an off-road race circuit (below) in Dubai: “The track will allow UAE residents and companies, as well as foreign visitors, to try the Zarooq Sand Racer for themselves. There will be “arrive-and-drive” offers as well as corporate event facilities and we will also be launching an off-road racing school.”

Tech Spec:

Power: 300-500hp

Weight: 1,050kg

Engine: 3.5-liter V6

Suspension: 350-450mm travel

January 15, 2016

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John joined UKi Media & Events in 2012 and has worked across a range of B2B titles within the company's automotive portfolio. Prior to joining the company, John worked for leading automotive design website, Car Design News. Currently editor of Engine Technology International, Professional MotorSport World, Professional MotorSport Circuit, and Transmission Technology International, John co-ordinates the day-the-day operations of each magazine, from commissioning and writing to editing and signing-off, as well managing web and social media content. Aside from the magazines, John also serves as chairman of the annual Professional MotorSport World Awards.

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