Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Loeb plans fight to the finish after setback

French star sets sights on world championship points as Nasser Al Attiyah grabs lead

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Sebastien Loeb in action. — Supplied photo
Sebastien Loeb in action. — Supplied photo

Published: Tue 28 Feb 2023, 1:03 AM

Sebastien Loeb plans a fight to the finish in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge after his hopes of a first victory in the event for Bahrain Raid Xtreme ended in frustration.

Loeb and Fabian Lurquin in the BRX Prodrive Hunter were halted by mechanical problems on the rally’s first demanding desert stage and lost their lead in the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) to Nasser Al Attiyah, who was fastest on the day to hold the outright lead in his Toyota.

A cooling hose problem on the 242-km stage between Al Dhannah city and Qasr Al Sarab forced Loeb to return directly to the bivouac. BRX technicians will spend the night assessing the problem, with the intention that the Prodrive Hunter returns to action.

The nine-time World Rally Champion immediately set his sights on the next four stages and the chance to win valuable points in the race for the W2RC driver and team titles.

Sebastien Loeb (right) and Nasser Al Attiyah. — Supplied photo
Sebastien Loeb (right) and Nasser Al Attiyah. — Supplied photo

Overall leader and defending world and Desert Challenge champion Al Attiyah won the stage by 6 mins 5 secs from Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi, with South African Henk Lategan taking third place in another Toyota.

Czech Martin Prokop in a Ford Raptor, Argentina’s Juan Yacopini in a Toyota and Denis Krotov at the wheel of a Mini completed the top six

Guerlain Chicherit, second fastest on yesterday’s Prologue in another Prodrive Hunter and lying third in the W2RC, also dropped from contention when he fell ill on the stage. He managed to complete the tough passage through the dunes, but withdrew from the rally in order to fully recover.

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