Zarooq Sand Racer to tear across the desert (and pavement, too)

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Zarooq plans to hand build each Sand Racer and make plenty of customization available

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We recently got a look at the all-new W Motors Fenyr Supersport, an ultra-aggressive, highly exclusive exotic supercar from the United Arab Emirates. One of the creative forces behind that car has now revealed an automotive vision from a very different corner of his mind. The Sand Racer from startup Zarooq Motors is arguably every bit as cool as the Fenyr, but it's designed to thrash about on hot sand instead of just asphalt.

Zarooq believes there's a demand for a street legal, off-road-focused performance car purpose-built for the desert of the United Arab Emirates. That car is nearing completion. The names of both the car and company are borrowed from the Shockari sand racer, a fast, agile desert snake ("Zarooq" in Emirati).

"The UAE are famous for amazing deserts, extreme safari motorsport and dune racing, but the performance of US and Japanese cars just wasn't good enough," Zarooq director Mohammed Al Qadi said in October. "So we decided to assemble a team to design and build the car we have all dreamed about, specifically made to race in the desert."

Sounds like a noble endeavor, and the end result looks like the UAE's answer to the Local Motors Rally Fighter, with a touch more rally race readiness. In fact, the Sand Racer doesn't look like it belongs on a road at all, though Zarooq presents it as a street-legal design. We suppose if you rip off some of the rendered options – like those huge, dirt-gnawing tires – it would look a little less out of place on the highway.

"It had to be fit for purpose, of course, hence the significant ground clearance, limited overhang or the room necessary for significant suspension travel," explained designer Anthony Jannarelly. "It also had to meet the standards to be road legal, yet we clearly focused on designing a car that is unique, aggressive and we hope, one day, iconic."

Jannarelly is the aforementioned mad mind behind the Fenyr Supersport (and Lykan Hypersport), and his firm Jannarelly & Juillot Special is working with Zarooq and Campos Racing in engineering and building the Sand Racer. They're supporting the high-set composite body with a welded S355 steel tube frame and the mid-rear placement of the engine will lead to a 60 rear/40 front distribution of the car's 2,315 lbs (1,050 kg).

Whether attacking the rippled, sun-baked sand grains of the UAE desert or a roadway commute around Dubai, the Sand Racer will get its momentum from a 304-bhp (227 kW) 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters and putting out up to 274 lb-ft (371 Nm) of torque. Much like the Peugeot 2008 DKR rally racer, the Sand Racer is envisioned as an absolutely beastly but lightweight off-roader that relies on just two driven wheels. Cushion will come from an independent triangle front suspension and trailing arm rear suspension.

Buyers looking for more performance out in the dirt will be able to check off options like off-road performance suspension, off-road wheels and tires, power upgrading up to 500 hp (373 kW), and performance brakes and exhaust.

Specs are subject to change, but as of now, the Sand Racer lists in with just over a foot (315 mm) of ground clearance, a 45-degree approach angle, a 53-degree departure angle and a 25-degree ramp over angle. It stretches 13.8 ft (4.2 m) in length and has a 9.25-ft (2.82-m) wheelbase, 27.6-in (700-mm) front overhang and 27.7-in (704-mm) rear overhang. Wheel size is listed at 15 inches with 33x12.5 R15 tires.

Inside, the Sand Racer will offer a functional blend of road comfort and off-road performance. It's set to have cloth seats with four-point harnesses, an LCD digital display, air conditioning and carbon fiber trim. Buyers can get a bit more on-road comfort and convenience by pulling equipment like comfort seats, infotainment system, glove box and cupholders off the options list.

Zarooq presented the Sand Racer to the press prior to the recent Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It showed only renderings, though, since the actual car is still being finished. It plans a full public reveal sometime in early 2016.

"Chassis is now finished; the engine and wiring are in place and working, the body molds are being sculpted, and we are just waiting for a few parts to arrive to finalize the assembly in December," Mohammed Al Qadi explained as part of the presentation.

The company also has to complete testing and road homologation.

Zarooq plans to establish sales in the United Arab Emirates and greater Persian Gulf region before looking at export. The price should fall between US$80,000 and $160,000, depending upon trim and options. Zarooq also hopes to develop a Dubai-based sand racing circuit and single-make racing series. Mohammed Al Qadi and fellow directors Bruno Laffite and Iannis Mardell all have racing-related backgrounds.

We'll wait and see how much of Zarooq's game plan comes to fruition, but we do like the look of this rally racer for the road. We hope the actual car does indeed materialize in the near future.

Source: Zarooq Motors

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