Loeb fights back to boost BRX Dakar victory hopes
Sebastien Loeb produced a brilliant fightback in the Dakar Rally today to keep Bahrain Raid Xtreme firmly in the hunt for a first win in the event.
Partnered by Fabian Lurquin in the BRX Prodrive Hunter, Loeb shrugged off the previous day’s trail of mishaps which plunged him down the field to take his BRX Prodrive Hunter to the second fastest time on the 463 km second stage from Al Henakiyah to Al Duwadimi.
The nine-time World Rally Champion fought out a dramatic dual over the later part of the stage with 14-time Dakar winner and fellow-Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel, who ultimately edged him out by just 29 seconds in an Audi.
The result saw Loeb rise to third place in the overall standings, finishing the day just 4 mins 17 secs behind the Audi of new outright leader Carlos Sainz, a gain for BRX of 16 places and 18 minutes on the day. Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi is third in his Toyota.
It was a perfect response by Loeb following a frustrating time on the opening desert stage when he was halted by an early puncture, suffered a bent steering arm, and was forced to drive in third gear for the majority of the time.
Having recorded a record six successive stage wins in last year’s Dakar Rally, Loeb will be eager to secure his first success of this year’s event in tomorrow’s 438km special from Al Duwadimi to Al Salamiya.
Loeb said at the finish: “It was a good stage for us. It was a very long one. I tried to push quite hard for all the stage. We had two hesitations in the navigation but finally we quickly got back on track. It was not easy but it was a nice stage to drive, so we had a good day.”
After finishing second in the Dakar for the last two years, Loeb will be aiming for another big performance tomorrow as he pursues a first win in the rally for himself, as well as BRX.
The driver who has denied him victory in the last two editions, Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah, was another big climber on the day, setting the fourth best time to rise from 22nd overnight to seventh.
Peterhansel’s stage win today, which saw him rise from 26th to ninth place overall, was the 50th of his career, making him the joint record stage winner alongside flying Finn Ari Vatanen.