Six students from three of Bahrain’s top Universities have enjoyed a unique internship at Prodrive where they have been part of the design, construction and everyday operations with Bahrain Raid Xtreme Hunter cars that are currently leading the World Rally Raid Championship.
The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students has seen the Bahrainis design parts that will be used on the actual BRX cars in the Dakar Rally while also being on the factory floor building new chassis that will be used in rallies this autumn in Morocco and Spain. A hands-on approach has been very much the spirit of the internship with testing of engines on the dyno, learning about gearboxes and the future with how hybrid power will be integrated with the sustainable fuel already used to international motorsport success with the BRX Hunter T1+.
David Richards, Chairman of Prodrive, has spearheaded this internship to exchange knowledge from decades of experience winning on a world stage over to the next generation.
"It’s great for Prodrive to be able to offer these Bahraini Engineering Students the opportunity to have an insight into all the technology behind the Bahrain Raid Extreme Team. During their time with us they have learnt how we design, manufacture and run the BRX Hunter on the world’s toughest motorsport event, the Dakar. We have also confirmed that when they finish their studies at university we will consider those who are interested for a full time role within the team.”
This internship of Bahraini students has also highlighted the ease and advantages of the new electronic visa waiver status that enables Bahraini and Saudi travellers to visit the UK for six months. This will further deepen the UK’s partnership with the countries as they join the Gulf Cooperation Council states who hold similar electronic visa waiver status thus enhancing the economic and educational prosperity between Bahrain and the UK.
Tasks for the students included being part of the BRX programme where they were involved in meetings for the build up for the team’s participation in the upcoming World Rally Raid Championship events in Morocco and Andalucía, including the critical detail of how such a rally is planned weeks ahead of the first green light of the event.
Jean Patrice Loof, Senior Rally Engineer with the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team said,
“It’s been so interesting to show the students what we do every day on the Dakar with the BRX team. Further to that, we set them complex tasks to calculate how much fuel would be needed on a 450km long stage of the Dakar Rally but with different dunes, rocks and tracks that throw up different fuel consumption scenarios plus wheel changes and navigation tasks too. It’s real world engineering that is so important to pass on to the next generation.”
Gus Beteli, Head of Performance of BRX.
“We were very impressed with the students as they were so engaged with how we built up towards Morocco asking so many interesting questions, but because they watch so much F1 they have a deep understanding of what happens when we run alternative tyre compounds, fuel loads and different drivers all against changing weather.”
Aside from learning at Prodrive headquarters in Banbury the students have also visited the world leading Prodrive Composites facility in Milton Keynes, the incredible Catesby Tunnel that’s an international benchmark for aerodynamic testing and vehicle development and one of only two testing tunnels in the world, and the Milbrook automotive testing ground.
Fareed Abusaqer is a Mechanical Engineer from the Bahrain Polytechnic University.
“Being in the heart of the Bahrain Raid Xtreme rally team is amazing but I’ve learnt that there is so much else going on here. It astonished me to be honest, right from the first day each week has seen us in a different department. I really want to do this as a career and want to follow this high level prototype engineering through.”
Salman Ahmed was equally as enthusiastic,
“It’s utterly fascinating seeing the engines, chassis and drivetrains being built because we don’t have any motorsport companies in Bahrain so I’ve learnt how the Hunter T1+ car is designed and constructed. For me one of the highlights was to see the engine on the dyno. What a great experience we’ve all had.”
Jasim Althawadi had his perception completely changed on his very first day of the month long internship.
“I’ve learnt so much with CAD with the different NX software programme that has more features over SolidWorks I’ve used before. With the engine I’ve learnt about the torque, power and so many characteristics you can tune and change on the dyno here at Prodrive.”
However it’s not all about hi-tech engineering but the pride involved as Fares Alqutami discovered.
“I modified a cover that’s part of the engine that will be used on the car in the Dakar in 2023 and that means that now I personally have a connection with the Bahrain Raid Xtreme car I feel immensely proud of as a Bahraini.”
The Bahrain Raid Xtreme team continue their preparations for the remaining events in this year’s World Rally Raid Championship with the Rallye du Maroc (October 1-6) and the Andalucía Rally soon after (October 18-23).