February 23, 2024

Loeb closes the gap with superb Dakar stage win

The Dakar Rally looks to be on course for an intriguing fight to the finish after Sebastien Loeb began the second week of the event today by securing another superb stage victory for Bahrain Raid Xtreme.

With a dominant drive on the 483km stage from Riyadh to Al Duwadimi, Loeb and Fabian Lurquin in the BRX Prodrive Hunter slashed 10 mins 31 secs off the overall lead held by Carlos Sainz in an Audi.

Loeb’s second successive stage win, and his third overall, underlined the intentions of the nine-time World Rally Champion, who set a record six best times in a row in Saudi Arabia last year to record consecutive runner up finishes.

If he is to follow up with a first outright Dakar victory, both for BRX and himself, he must still wipe out an overall advantage of 19 mins held by Sainz across the five stages leading to Friday’s finish in Yanbu.

Loeb’s win today came despite him opening the stage after the Riyadh rest day. While he held back initially as American Seth Quintero set the pace, Loeb was ahead just after the halfway point, and pulled away to take the stage by more than seven minutes from Brazil’s Lucas Moraes.

Sainz will now feel the heat from the Frenchman in the BRX Prodrive Hunter. Loeb replaced the Spaniard’s Audi team-mate, Mattias Ekström, as his closest challenger when the Swede plunged from contention with mechanical problems after just 47km.

After a well-earned day off following the gruelling 48 hr Chrono stage, the drivers faced another big test today. Apart from the stage itself, which included 47 km of dunes, and the rest mostly made up of dry river beds and off piste, the crews covered 873 km of road sections,

Loeb was clearly focused at the wheel of the BRX Prodrive Hunter, as he recorded his 26th Dakar stage victory overall, leaving him just three behind the great Jacky Ickx.

The Dakar rests at the Al Duwadimi bivouac tonight where the rally last visited at the end of stage two before setting off tomorrow on a 458km stage to H’ail.

Last Updated on 1 month by Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247 delivers trending business and lifestyle news and essential infotainment for, and from the Middle East region, with key focus on the GCC nations: United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.
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