Loeb makes steady start in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

The BRX driver ready for tough battle to retain lead in world title race

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

Published: Sun 26 Feb 2023, 5:50 PM

World Rally-Raid Championship leader Sebastien Loeb gave Bahrain Raid Xtreme a comfortable start to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on Sunday as the second round of the series got underway in the UAE.

Partnered by Fabian Lurquin in his BRX Prodrive Hunter, Loeb set the third fastest time on the 6.76km Prologue at Al Dhannah, which was won by his big W2RC title rival, Nasser Al Attiyah.

Driving another Prodrive Hunter, 2009 Desert Challenge winner Guerlain Chicherit recorded the second quickest time in partnership with Alex Winocq, just four seconds adrift of the Qatari’s Toyota.

Marking his 49th birthday, Loeb was only six seconds further away, and knows the battle starts in earnest on Monday when the rally begins a five-day passage taking in the towering dunes of the Rub Al Khali.

Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi was fourth fastest on the day in a Toyota, with Argentina’s Sebastian Halpern in a Mini and Czech Martin Prokop’s Ford Raptor completing the top six.

Loeb and Chicherit are looking to reproduce the form which gave the Prodrive Hunter nine victories in 14 stages of January’s Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, a record six of those in succession for the nine-time World Rally Champion.

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