Dakar. The very name conjures up images of daring dashes through the brutish desert, running down scorpions and dodging terrorists at full throttle. Not exactly the place you'd expect to find a Bentley, then, but that's what the rumormill is pointing towards today.

Wait a second, you say, Bentley's parent company Volkswagen is already a dominant force in the Dakar rally! And right you are. But now that it's heading to the World Rally Championship, VW isn't expected to return to the iconic desert race. Which leaves it with two options: either mothball the operation it's been cultivating to domination over the past several years and hand victory to one of its erstwhile rivals, or bring in one of its subsidiary divisions.

Okay, makes sense, but why Bentley? Well, the British luxury marque is understood to be preparing to roll out an SUV, and Dakar could be just the place to prove it won't be just some pampered show horse.

The last rumor linking Bentley with a world-class racing series revolved, much like its actual last foray, around Le Mans. But with sister-companies Audi and Porsche gearing up to contest the endurance race next season, this Dakar scenario suddenly doesn't seem so far-fetched.

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