Loeb ready for big new test after tough Dakar day
After a punishing day in the Dakar Rally, Sebastien Loeb must again look to make up for lost time with Bahrain Raid Xtreme as the event prepares to go offline in Saudi Arabia.
Opening the road on today’s 118km Stage 5 between Al-Hofuf and Shubaytah was always going to be tricky for Loeb and Fabian Lurquin in the BRX Prodrive Hunter, and it became even tougher when they collected a 15 minute penalty for missing a waypoint.
It was a reminder of how unforgiving the Dakar can be, as Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi extended his overall lead to 9 mins 3 secs in his Toyota Hilux, and Loeb slipped three places to ninth following his thrilling stage victory 24 hours earlier.
This was a day on which the value from setting the fastest time was questionable, ahead of tomorrow’s first half of the daunting new 48-hour Chrono stage.
With separate courses for the cars and motorbikes, today’s winner will start first in the morning without the benefit of bike tracks to follow, presenting a huge navigational test.
Five-time Dakar champion Nasser Al Attiyah was clearly unperturbed as took the honours today, his first success in the Prodrive Hunter, to go second overall, within sight of Al Rajhi but just 2:28 ahead of Carlos Sainz in an Audi.
Loeb said at the finish: “We had a clean stage. We wanted to lose some time on this one to have a good road position for tomorrow. I’m not sure what will be our position with the time we lost, but hopefully it will be good and we can do well tomorrow.”
It was another tough examination for the crews, who were up at the break of dawn in the bivouac to travel 527 km just to reach the start of today’s stage taking them back into the relentless dunes of the Empty Quarter.
The opening of the new two-day marathon stage tomorrow will see competitors spread between eight bivouacs overnight, with basic camping provisions and no connection, in between time trials of 572km and 483km.
Last Updated on 1 month by Middle East News 247