Racing With A Reliable Mobile Coverage Solution At The Dakar Rally


Every year the Dakar rally captures the hearts and minds of motorsport enthusiasts around the world. Amateur and professional teams enter with modified off-road vehicles to race across 4,700 miles of gruelling inhospitable terrains like sand dunes, mud, grass, and rocks over the course of 14 days. This epic endurance race, considered one of the most dangerous in the world, competes for guts and glory, and provide participants with the ultimate in adventure racing.

The 43rd Dakar Rally took place from 3rd – 15th January 2021 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 295 teams entered the race across all racing categories. One of these teams was BRX Bahrain Raid Xtreme.

The Dakar team consisted of British motorsport and technology company Prodrive, backed by Mumtalakat, Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund. The team competed for the coveted top spot in the all-new, custom-designed Prodrive BRX T1 ‘Hunter’, a purpose-built car intended for off-road events.

The BRX support team followed the racing cars in a purpose-built HGV race office and two management cars. The race office carried the control centre and communication hub from where the core support team had an overview of the entire event. Good connectivity was critical to ensure that there was always reliable two-way communication available to ensure that support could be carried out timeously and effectively.

The race office was fitted out at Prodrive’s HQ in Banbury, Oxford. Technologies and systems were put through extensive stress tests to ensure that they would perform optimally in the challenging terrain and climate. During these trials, it was discovered that there was very little mobile signal available inside the race office resulting in the inability of the team to communicate on their mobile devices whilst inside. The lack of mobile signal was the cause of great concern as the team extensively rely on their mobile devices to stay in touch with the other support vehicles and race control. This could ultimately affect the team’s chance of success at the rally.

It was determined that the cause of the problem was down to the materials used in the build of the race office, preventing mobile signal from penetrating the body of the vehicle. The Cel-Fi GO M in-vehicle signal booster was agreed to be the optimal solution to overcome the signal issues within the race office.

But how does it work? Cel-Fi GO M uses smart technology to amplify the frequency bands from the mobile network provider via reception antennas. Nextivity has engineered the award winning Intelliboost® chipset which sits at the heart of the Cel-Fi booster. Effectively, it picks up mobile signal from outside of the vehicle using donor antennas, brings it inside the vehicle to where the GO M booster does its magic, by boosting and enhancing the mobile signal, and then sending it around the inside of the vehicle via small server antennas. Cel-Fi GO M automatically adapts to the moving environment to optimise mobile coverage while improving voice quality and data speeds.

Cel-Fi GO M is managed via the WAVE portal which allows users to switch networks and provides a dashboard to view to the status of the mobile signal environment. For the Prodrive team, this meant that they would be able to switch between the different mobile networks and manage the solution from the control centre within the race office.

Prodrive deployed with the Cel-Fi GO X solution comprising of 1 x Trucker Antenna as the donor antenna, 1 x Cel-Fi GO M signal booster and 1 x Patch Antenna as the server antenna.

The Cel-Fi GO M solution was installed in the race office at the Banbury HQ and configured to the corporate network. The deployment was a success. From near to no signal in the race office previously, the team were able to benefit from 5 bars of mobile coverage within the race office vehicle when the booster was active. Mobile phone calls and text messages made to and from the race office were now much more reliable and allowed the team to communicate more effectively with all team members.

The rally cars and support vehicles were then transported from the UK to the UAE in November 2020 for further trials. While there, the Cel-Fi GO M booster was configured to one of the local networks and used to enhance the mobile coverage within the race office while stationed in the UAE. Once the team moved on to Saudi Arabia, the Cel-Fi GO M booster was configured to a local network and provided essential mobile connectivity to the BRX Bahrain Rally Xtreme team in their pursuit of victory!

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