Alain Prost, widely regarded as one of the fiercest Formula One drivers in history and the most heated rival of the late, great Ayrton Senna, is still hacking up race tracks in France these days, albeit on a much different terrain. The former Formula One Driver’s Champion’s competitive racing juices are now on full display at the Andros Trophy racing series, the national Ice Racing championship of France.
Last year, Prost raced behind the wheel of a Dacia Duster Ice Racer and proceeded to show everybody that despite his age, he still managed to finish runner-up for the season, trailing only two-time Andros champion Jean-Philippe Dayraut on-board his Fabia Skoda MKII.
This season, which is scheduled to begin on December 4th, Prost is looking to break through with his first Andros championship, and to help him achieve his goal, he’s got a brand new Dacia Duster Ice Racer waiting to be unleashed all over the icy terrains of France.
The new Duster Ice Racer underwent some engine and performance upgrades from last year’s model, giving Prost an even bigger chance to break the Skoda’s two-year stranglehold on the championship.
For one thing, the 55-year old racer is determined to prove that second place won’t be good enough this time around. “Last season, we were aware it would be tough to win the Trophée Andros with a new car, not to mention the fact that the program began at a relatively late stage” he said.
“This time round, my intention is to challenge for the title. We completed two very positive days of testing at Val Thorens last weekend. Our work on Duster has clearly paid dividends and we are convinced we have the means to make a strong start."
Head over past the jump to find out details about Prost’s new Duster Ice Racer.
Exterior and Interior
Take out all the sponsors and their logos stickered on the Duster and you’ll notice a few things about the SUV that’s similar to the production version. The Duster Ice, which comes with a fiberglass body, exudes a sense of ruggedness with the wide wheel arches, the the chromed grille, and sump guard. Like all cars that are competing in the Trophy, the Dacia Duster Ice must look like a production vehicle while meeting strict regulations, which in this case consists of a tubular chassis, four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering, and Continental Ice Racing Contact 3 tires.
Then there are all those corporate stickers, which, is about as important as anything in the vehicle because, well, that’s what brings the money in.
Not a whole lot was released regarding what’s inside of the new Duster Ice Racer, although as with all race cars, it’s likely that most of the features that don’t help in the race version have been removed to lighten the weight of the car. On the flip side, race-spec seats, high-grade seatbelts, and other race safety measures are all likely to have been added to the ice racer.
The new Duster Ice Race has been outfitted with a tubular chassis with a mid-rear mounted 3.0-liter, 24-valve V6 engine courtesy of the newly forged Renault -Nissan Alliance. The engine produces around 350 horsepower at 7,500 rpm with a maximum torque of 360Nm at 5,500 rpm with the power being sent to the wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox.
Being a racing prototype, extensive work was done on the vehicle’s performance specs to ensure that it’s up to the standards of rivals competing at the Andros Trophy. Engineers also shaved off weight from the production model to around 950kg by installing a double wishbone suspension arrangement with long-travel dampers and shock absorbers that are ideal for the rough and icy terrains of circuits where the Andros Trophy races are held.
They also added a mechanical four-wheel steering system linked to both the front and rear wheels for that much-needed steering precision, a pretty important detail considering the varying terrains of the series’ different circuits.
The car is a competition model so it’s unlikely that it’s ever going to see the production line. That being said, a production model of the 2010 Dacia Duster SUV goes for 11,900 ($16,000) for the two-wheel drive version and 13,900 ($18,600) for the 4x4 variant.
Last year, the Dacia Duster Ice Race piloted by Alain Prost finished second in the overall standings, falling to the Skoda Fabia MKII. With the 2011 season set to begin on December 4th at Val Thorens, the Dacia team is looking to finally supplant the Dacia team and championship-winning driver Jean-Philippe Dayraut. Whether the team does so or not, we’re all going to be rooting for Alain Prost, one of our favorite Formula One drivers of all time, to once again prove that he’s still one of the best drivers in the world, regardless of what kind of race track he’s on.