Bentley to take part in 2013 Dakar Rally

Bentley will modify used Volkswagen Dakar-prepped Touaregs to make them look like the EXP 9 F SUV to compete in the extremely challenging endurance series.

The Dakar Rally is one of the most spectacular and challenging rallies in the world, which apart from providing a proving ground for motorsport enthusiasts also provides an excellent test case and promotional tool for manufacturers - as it is broadcasted in over 190 different countries. BMW did it with its Mini Countryman and Volkswagen did it with the Touareg. 

And now Bentley is resorting a similar strategy, probably to create a positive aura around its new upcoming Bentley EXP 9 F SUV that was first unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show in concept form and wasn't very well received by the audience. 

The EXP 9 F concept unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show
According to Car magazine UK, Bentley will enter the 2013 Dakar Rally with a new SUV and is attempting to buy back the previous Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 that led to three straight Dakar rally wins between 2009 and 2011 and which were recently sold by Volkswagen Motorsport to private teams upon its departure. Bentley reportedly, will update the Touaregs and redesign the exteriors to make it resemble the EXP 9 F SUV concept. The modified Touaregs will be bare-bone off-roaders and will come fitted with an upgraded body shell in order to look as the EXP 9 F SUV concept.

It still remains unclear as to what engine configuration will make it into the modified Touareg. The latest VW Touareg, which entered Dakar, was powered by a 2.5-litre twin-turbo diesel with an output of almost 300 PS. But the engine range for the Bentley EXP 9 F is still subject of debate. Petrol powered engines like a 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12, 4.0-litrE twin-turbo V8, a V6 Hybrid and a diesel-powered V8 are all being considered. Most likely Bentley will use the engines of the Volkswagen Touaregs, as these have proven to be reliable and successful.