Loeb completes back-to-back Dakar stage wins for BRX Hunter

Prodrivee Hunters secure 1-2-3 result in Saudi on another big day for Bahrain Raid Xtreme as Al Attiyah extends his overall lead

By Team KT

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Frenchman Sébastien Loeb and Beldium's Fabian Lurquin of Bahrain Raid Extreme, BRX, Prodrive Hunter, in action during Stage 7 of the Dakar 2023 between Riyadh and Al Duwadimi, on January 7th, 2023 in Al Duwadimi, Saudi Arabia.-SUPPLIED PHOTO
Frenchman Sébastien Loeb and Beldium's Fabian Lurquin of Bahrain Raid Extreme, BRX, Prodrive Hunter, in action during Stage 7 of the Dakar 2023 between Riyadh and Al Duwadimi, on January 7th, 2023 in Al Duwadimi, Saudi Arabia.-SUPPLIED PHOTO

Published: Tue 10 Jan 2023, 10:37 PM

Sebastien Loeb gave Bahrain Raid Xtreme a second

successive stage victory in the Dakar Rally today as Prodrive Hunters dominated proceedings


with a 1-2-3 result in Saudi Arabia.

Partnered by Fabian Lurquin, Loeb secured his third win in this year’s event on the 358km ninth


stage from Riyadh to Haradh to boost his challenge for a podium finish in his BRX Prodrive

Hunter.

Loeb was fastest from the start, and set the pace for almost the entire day, briefly conceding the

lead to the Prodrive Hunter of Vaidotas Zala at one point, eventually beating the Lithuanian into

second place by 57 secs. This was despite a 2 min 10 secs road section time penalty.

Stage three winners Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq set the third fastest time in their

Prodrive Hunter, making it the fifth stage in a row that the trio of cars each running on

sustainable fuel had all finished in the top ten.

Loeb’s 19 th Dakar Rally stage victory lifted him to third place in the overall standings, as Qatar’s

Nasser Al Attiyah, almost nine minutes off the pace on the day in eighth, still extended his

overall advantage to 1 hr 21 mins 57 secs in his Toyota over Brazil’s Lucas Moraes.

While a succession of earlier setbacks have left Loeb 1 hr 43 mins behind Al Attiyah, the nine-

time World Rally Champion now leads the Qatari in the World Rally-Raid Championship points

standings, with five more stages remaining in this year’s opening round.

Following the rest day in Riyadh, today’s stage took the cars through wadis presenting a difficult

navigational test, and pools of water left by recent rain, before crossing a range of dunes leading

to the finish.

There was double drama early on as second-placed Henk Lategan lost around 40 minutes when

mechanical problems stopped his Toyota, and Carlos Sainz rolled the Audi which had led the

rally over the first two stages.

Sainz was initially airlifted towards hospital for a medical check-up, but later asked for the

helicopter to turn around and reunite him with co-driver Lucas Cruz to resume the rally.

Loeb finished the stage to say: “We had a little moment when we had a problem with the road

section, but after that I tried really hard in and we made it a good stage. It was very tricky for

navigation and we lost some time in three or four places, but it was tough for everybody because

the motorbike lines were wrong.”

Zala commented: “That was a good day. We started tenth, and when we began overtaking cars, I

knew we would be ok. The only risky places were the wadis, which had a lot of water. We

decided to cross straight on at one point, and almost got stuck there.”

Chicherit said: “The car was awesome like always, but was upset with Alex and me because we

made a mistake, got lost, and took a lot of time to get back on the right track. We also had to

change a flat tyre. We had a good speed, but we’re a bit annoyed.”


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