TIME ON LOEB’S SIDE AFTER TOUGH DAKAR DAY FOR BRX
After another demanding day in the Dakar Rally which again tested driving skills, navigation and mechanical endurance to the limit, Sebastien Loeb remains focused on the big picture with Bahrain Raid Xtreme.
With Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi installed as the new rally leader and Loeb now placed ninth in a line-up of top challengers separated by 25 minutes, the Frenchman knows his best is yet to come in the BRX Prodrive Hunter.
Loeb and Fabian Lurquin were among the pairings to suffer on today’s 438km Stage 3 from Al Duwadimi to Al Salamiya, with three punctures resulting in a big loss of time, as Brazil’s Lucas Moraes took the day’s honours in a Toyota Hiliux.
“After the third one we needed to repair, and that’s complicated,” said Loeb at the finish. “We restarted, then after every 20km we had to stop to inflate the tyre. But we finished the stage, that is the main thing. We lost 25 minutes but it could be worse.”
The nine-time World Rally Champion needs no reminding, however, that he won a record six successive stages in last year’s Dakar, and there is still plenty of time to make up the lost ground before the finish in Yanbu on 19th January.
The rally’s capacity for rapidly changing fortunes was highlighted today by five-time winner Nasser Al Attiyah, who looked set to take the stage before a late slide to fourth, but still continued his climb from 22nd to fifth overall in 48 hours.
Replacing overnight leader Carlos Sainz’s Audi at the top of the overall standings, Al Rajhi holds only a 29 seconds advantage over the Spaniard, before a gap of almost eight minutes to third-placed Swede Mattias Ekström in another Audi.
It was another stage of mixed terrain presenting a variety of challenges over rocky sections, sand tracks and dunes, making it difficult to settle into a flowing rhythm.
Loeb’s BRX technical crew are masters in making rapid refinements to the Prodrive Hunter, although on completion of today’s stage all teams were restricted to just two hours of work on their vehicles before competitors headed off for the overnight camp at the bivouac.
Ahead tomorrow lies the 299km Stage 4 from Al Salamiya to Al-Hofuf, and it was on this day last year where Loeb took his BRX Prodrive Hunter to its first of seven stage victories overall.
Last Updated on 1 month by Middle East News 247