Loeb closes gap again as Dakar heads for big climax
The stage is set for a fascinating last two days in the Dakar Rally after Sebastien Loeb again boosted the victory hopes of Bahrain Raid Xtreme on another dramatic episode in Saudi Arabia.
By the end of a treacherously rocky 371km Stage 10 run in a loop around AlUla, Loeb and Fabian Lurquin in the BRX Prodrive Hunter had closed to within 13 mins 22 secs of leader Carlos Sainz in his Audi.
It was a day when the two front runners played cat and mouse throughout, and both suffered, with Loeb at one point on the stage going more than 16 minutes ahead of the Spaniard who came to a stop after 248km.
The nine-time World Rally Champion was just over four minutes overall behind Sainz at that point, before he too was slowed by two punctures, and had to improvise in changing a wheel when the car’s jack failed to work.
As the battle of wits and changing fortunes continued, Guerlain Chicherit won the stage in his Toyota Hilux and is fifth overall, while Lucas Moraes of Brazil in another Toyota is more than 49 mins adrift of Loeb in third place.
After gaining 7 mins 11 secs on Sainz, Loeb said at the end of the stage: “It was a hard day for us. We had a problem with the jack and we had two punctures. We had to climb into the rocks to find a way to lift the rear tyre to be able to change it, so we lost about 15 minutes.
“It’s frustrating, but the stages are hard and Carlos is still losing some time, so at the end we will see where we are tonight.”
With four stage victories already secured in the BRX Prodrive Hunter, Loeb will now be aiming to win the two that remain before the finish in Yanbu on Friday to record a first triumph in the event for himself, and for BRX. The rally resumes in the morning with a 480km stage from AlUla to Yanbu, ahead of the final 175km race against the clock starting and finishing in the Red Sea port city.
Last Updated on 2 months by Middle East News 247