LONDON (Reuters) – Bahrain will enter its own team in next year’s Dakar Rally after being title sponsor this year of Spaniard Carlos Sainz’s winning Mini JCW X-Raid entry.

The island kingdom’s Mumtalakat sovereign wealth fund announced on Wednesday that it was setting up a joint venture with British motorsport and engineering company Prodrive to design and manufacture cars for a Dakar entry.

The Dakar Rally moved to Saudi Arabia this year after more than a decade in South America following a switch away from Africa.

“It has been a long-held ambition of mine and Prodrive to compete in the Dakar Rally,” said Prodrive chairman David Richards, a world rally championship winning co-driver with Finland’s Ari Vatanen in 1981, in a statement.

The new joint venture company will be known as Prodrive International.

“In partnering with Prodrive, we expand Bahrain’s significant motorsport heritage, having established the Bahrain International Circuit to host Formula One in the Middle East for the first time in 2004,” said Mumtalakat CEO Khalid Al Rumaihi.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

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