Zarooq just held its launch press conference!
Very cool premier of an exceptionally promising rear-engine rally race truck -- the SandRacer 300.
Teased since last summer, this new project is a partnership between global racing legends, skilled engineers and marketing savvy. All built and optimized for us in Zarooq's back yard: the massive dunes of Arabia.
The latest details make us even more excited about the project: rear-drive with a 3.5-liter V6 mounted in the mid-rear, the SandRacer is priced from about $100k at launch and will be road legal in the Middle East.
The Zarooq's otherworldly design outside is fabulous from all sides. Low and mean with just two doors into its Baja racer shape, the Sand Racer has virtually nonexistant overhangs of just 3 inches front and rear, fantastic off-road specs, and tons of playful grip via its mid-mounted engine.
The engine in the center-rear of the car lightens the nose for optimal desert jumps and landings, while enhancing control under all dynamic situations -- but especially in sprint starts and panic braking. Similar to the Porsche 911, the weight balance tilted to the rear creates an optimal chassis basis for two-wheeled traction on or off the track.
But when conditions are slick like on the Dubai Off Road Circuit that Zarooq is creating, a rear-drive rally setup like this eliminates understeer and lets the driver control the drift angle of the truck with extreme precision.
Air conditioning is standard, as is the closed cockpit to shield you from the scalding sun and sand -- especially when sideways kicking up huge rooster tails of sand in your wake!
But besides these friendly amenities, the SandRacer it its core is a racecar -- a bit like a Dakar prototype with its extreme rolled-steel monocoque and roll cage forming the entire chassis itself. This makes the truck safer to drive in extreme conditions-- but will also mean slightly compromised cabin comfort and entry/exit ease, we predict.
For the right clients though, the whole racing mood of the machine will only enhance the sense of racing thrills when you fire up that howling, race-prepped V6 without boring exhaust silencers and global emissions restrictions.
400- and 500-horsepower upgrades are on the table for upcoming variants of the SandRacer 300 -- but for now the launch powertrain is set as the 3498-CC V6 engine making 304-horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque. No word on how the extra power will be achieved - but forced induction via a super or turbocharger is assumed.
ENGINE ORIGINS? Where is this engine from? We believe it is out of the Infiniti G35, but tuned to deliver much more torque down low in the 6600-rpm rev range. Mercedes-Benz also produces a 3.5-liter V6 of this capacity, equipped in its latest outings on the C300 and C400 from 2015 -- but in standard V6TT form. If this is the engine in question, the SandRacer 400 and 500 models will be available shortly after launch. Custom-designing and testing the naturally-aspirated Nissan VQ engine for turbo power would be much more labor-intensive.
WORRIES? We worry about the SandRacer engine's cooling ability without more ductwork to feed it 110-degree Dubai air.... even that temp is absolutely critical to cool the 500-degree engine after a few hours of hard driving. [Overheating can cause power losses at minimum, and safety concerns at maximum. Note to Zarooq via Ferrari's burning cars 'issue': do not use any glue/epoxy/bonding whatsoever anywhere near the engine or in rear wheelwells. =]
Note: we've reviewed the gorgeous photos of the SandRacer in more detail. While the truck lacks big side or roof scoops for cooling and air intake for the engine, the engine itself should be plenty cool. Big swaths of the tail are mesh vents, while the top cover of the engine (behind the vertical back glass and inside the giant roof pillars) appears to be fully open. This will be extra necessary if any turbochargers are in the mix.
BRANDING: The Zarooq logo is wayyy too close to that of the Dodge Viper in shape and graphic motif. This is a brand awareness problem as well as a potential legal issue in the future. Check out the three Viper emblems so far versus the Zarooq sand snake....
The stunning exterior design of the SandRacer deserves a similarly fresh emblem, in our opinion.
Viper emblem designs:
This is paired to a six-speed manual as standard, but a paddle-shifted automatic is on the options list. Along with comfort seats vs the race-ready FIA units, carbon-fiber details inside and out, plus any customized exterior you can think of.
We love the idea and execution of the SandRacer, and especially love that it is priced so reasonably -- particular versus the $5-mil or so it takes to own the UAE's other homegrown supercar: the W Motors Lykan HyperSport.
Initial production is set to begin in February 2016, with journalists introduced to the real-life truck a month beforehand. First deliveries may take place as soon as April of 2016.
Express interest via the Zarooq email and website contacts below -- plus check out the launch presentation screencaps discussing the company's people, philosophy and mission!
2017 ZAROOQ SandRacer 300
Press Release – November 2015
Zarooq unveils details about its SandRacer in press conference during Abu Dhabi GP week
Sand racing car, made in UAE
First Press conference held in the Sofitel the Palm, Dubai gathering the whole team during Abu Dhabi Grand Prix week
Zarooq Motors had invited the press in the Sofitel the Palm Dubai, a few days before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. “The timing and the location allowed us to have everyone around the table, including Campos Racing team (Adrian Campos, CEO and Rio Haryanto, GP2 driver)” noted Bruno Laffite, Operations Director.
“It was a unique moment for us to exchange with the press and answer all their questions” commented Mohammed Al Qadi, Motorsport director “and we were glad to have attracted such a crowd of journalists, highlighting the level of interest we have generated locally in the UAE, in the Gulf but also internationally.”
The genesis of Zarooq Motors is embedded in UAE motorsport …
“The Zarooq SandRacer was created in order to be able to organize an Off-road single-make championship and operate a sand racing track in Dubai” explains Mohammed al Qadi. “We have all the necessary skills in the UAE, from the design to the actual manufacturing of the chassis and the body as well as the final assembly, with our partners JJSpecial” added Mohammed. “We wanted the car to be road legal, with AC, because we want it to be as practical as possible, even if it is a racing car” said Bruno Laffite. “The support and insights from the industry we get thanks to our partnership with Motorsport professionals like Campos Racing is of great value today for the car and tomorrow for our championship”, he added.
…with an objective of being a sustainable UAE car manufacturer and motorsport provider
Zarooq Motors aims at building a sustainable brand synonymous with off-road capability, racing-grade performance and iconic look. “We don’t aim at being a large scale manufacturer, but a solid niche player consistently delivering innovative and reliable cars” underlines Mohammed. “We are an Emirati company and we want to show the world what we are capable of.”
The aggressive and iconic look of the car revealed
Anthony Jannarelly, came to global automotive industry fame as the designer of the W Motors Lykan and Fenyr. As part of JJSpecial, the Zarooq SandRacer is his latest creation.
“It had to be fit for purpose, of course, hence the significant ground clearance, limited overhang or the room necessary for significant suspension travel. 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” Anthony Jannarelly said.
The details of the car’s performance were covered with the GP engineers from Campos Racing who designed it
The details of the car performance and engineering designs were discussed at length with Philippe Gautheron and Emilio Lozano, from Campos Racing, as well as Frederic Juillot from JJSpecial in charge of the manufacturing workshop. “We chose all our parts and partners in order to offer the best racing performance, from engine supplier, tires but also suspensions which are critical for Off-road Performance” remarked Bruno Laffite.
The development strategy is ambitious but realistic
Zarooq Motors management has devised a realistic development plan, primarily focused on developing sales in the UAE and the gulf, aiming at drivers who want a high performance sand racing car, which is affordable and easy to maintain; the car can also cater of course to all the car enthusiasts of the region. “We actually have some people interested in importing the car in the gulf but also in Europe” mentioned Mohammed Al Qadi. “We will concentrate on exports and launching new products once our local sales are sustainable”
In parallel, and in order to foster the development of the local championship, Zarooq Motors is initiating a “Dubai Off-Road Racing Track” to host races but also corporate events in a premium and safe environment dedicated to sand racing. “You will be able to see Dubai “ئ بد” in Arabic: as part of the track design” explains Mohammed Al Qadi.
Car to be shown to journalists and to the public in January 2016
Mohammed explained: “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”. “If all goes well, we should be able to show the car to the journalists and then to the public very soon. Expect to be able to see it here in the Sofitel the Palm in a few weeks…” said Iannis Mardell.
“Of course, we are conducting a series of tests to proof the car and then we will take the road homologation”
As a result, the journalists and first clients should be able to test the car in early 2016.
2017 ZAROOQ SandRacer 300
|Rollcage height (mm)||1220|
|Track (mm)||2160 -- 2100|
|Front overhang (mm)||700|
|Rear Overhang (mm)||704|
|Injection||Indirect multi-port grouped fuel injection|
|Rev limit||6600 rpm|
|Engine position||Central - rear|
Options available (non exhaustive)
|Engine position||Central - rear|
|GEARBOX AND TRANSMISSION|
|Transmission||6 speed automatic|
|Dampers||Fox 980 -02-009 // Fox 983-02-075|
|Coil||Spring K TBD|
|Brakes (mm)||240 Ventilated|
|Specs||Adjustable front rear bias|
|Diameter||33" / 84 cm|
|Rim||15" / 38 cm|
|Body||Non structural fiberglass moulded. Composite mix|
|Seats||Individual seat units composite woven cloth, adjustable.|
|Seat belt||2" E Approved four point quick release full harnesses|
|Rack and pinion cast alloy steering rack 1.7 turns lock to lock|
|Collapsible offset steering column. Adjustable rod ends|
|Steering||305mm race suede covered steering wheel|
|LCD Digital display, speedometer, tachometer, water, fuel, odo,|
|Instruments||trip.Warning lights: Ignition, lights, brake, oil, beam, indicators, alarm.|
|Projector headlamps. LED indicators, stop/tail/side/repeaters.|
|Rear fog lamp, reverse lamp, number plate lamp. Horn. 3 way closed loop.|
|Road Equipment||Front and rear mudguards.|
|· 400hp, 500hp engine preparation||· Carbon fiber interior / exterior|
|·||Dynamic Off-Road suspension||·||Infotainment system|
|·||High capacity reservoir||·||Comfort seats|
|·||Performance gearbox||·||Spare wheel|
|·||Off-Road wheels and tyres||·||Car cover|
|·||Performance brakes||·||Bespoke body|
|·||Performance exhaust system||·||LED lights|
|·||Special FIA pack||·||Paint and stripe|
|· Cupholder, glove box, etc.|