• May 19th 2011 at 6:30PM
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Dacia Duster Pikes Peak racer – Click above for image gallery

North American audiences may not be familiar with the name Dacia. It's Renault's Romanian budget brand, and a particular favorite of Top Gear's James May. But beyond its no-frills road cars, Dacia has also followed its parent company's lead in establishing a name for itself in motorsport competition. And that fighting spirit is about to come to American shores – or hilltops, anyway.

As we reported back in January, Dacia is preparing a version of its Duster crossover for full assault on Pikes Peak. The Duster is the racer which four-time F1 champion Alain Prost drives in the Andros Trophy, a French ice-racing series, but in a bit of a twist, the project is reportedly being piloted by Prost's main rival, Jean-Phillipe Dayraut, who drives a BMW 1 Series in the Andros Trophy. (Imagine Lewis Hamilton going to Le Mans in a Ferrari and you'll see what we mean.)

With the car set to debut in testing on June 5 ahead of the June 26 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Dayraut has released a handful of images showing his new machine being built and wind tunnel tested. And it looks like quite the beast, with giant spoilers front and rear. As for what is powering the Monster-challenging monster, rumor is it's based on the Nissan GT-R's twin-turbo V6 – the companies are allied, after all – tuned by Renaultsport. Whatever it is, it's said to pack 850 horsepower, making this one very serious contender to break the elusive ten-minute mark come one month from now.

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