Loeb grabs another stage win to keep BRX in Dakar hunt
Sebastien Loeb recorded another impressive stage victory in the Dakar Rally today to keep Bahrain Raid Xtreme in the hunt with three days remaining.
Loeb and Fabian Lurquin in the BRX Prodrive Hunter won the 417km Stage 9 from H’ail to AlUla to strengthen their hold on second place, and cut 4 mins 14 secs off the overall lead held by Carlos Sainz, second fastest today in his Audi.
A fourth win in the space of six stages was the perfect response from the nine-time World Rally Champion to the navigational glitch that had cost him victory and a lot of time on the previous day.
The gap to Sainz is now 20 mins 33 secs, and with three stages adding up to 1,443 kilometres still to be run against the clock, the Dakar could be heading for a fascinating climax in Yanbu on Friday.
With the burden of opening the road replaced by a tenth place start on the day, Loeb set the pace from beginning to end in the BRX Prodrive Hunter to record his 27th Dakar stage win.
Six of those successes arrived consecutively on last year’s Dakar, when Loeb set the fastest time on seven days overall, a feat he will now attempt to match over the next three days in order to keep the pressure on Sainz.
While the giant dunes of the Empty Quarter are now in the past until next year, other potential obstacles that could affect the outcome remain, including navigational errors, punctures and mechanical setbacks.
The rally continues tomorrow with a 371km stage run in a loop around AlUla across rocky terrain, where the temptation for some, more than others, may be to show caution in order to avoid shredding tyres, and losing position.
Loeb, who has finished runner up in the Hunter for the last two years, has a 51-minute cushion over third-placed Lucas Moraes of Brazil in a Toyota Hilux, and has his eyes only on the top of the podium.
Last Updated on 2 months by Middle East News 247