Loeb wins tactical battle to boost BRX in Dakar Rally
Sebastien Loeb benefitted from a shrewd tactical move in the Dakar Rally today to give Bahrain Raid Xtreme a big lift as Carlos Sainz took the outright lead in Saudi Arabia.
Loeb and Fabian Lurquin in the BRX Prodrive Hunter deliberately slowed down on the previous day to give themselves a favourable starting position this morning on the first part of the new two-day Chrono stage cutting across the Empty Quarter.
The strategy paid off, as the BRX crew climbed five places overall on the day to move within
15 mins 10 secs of Nasser Al Attiyah in third place at the wheel of his Prodrive Hunter.
Starting first after winning the previous stage, Al Attiyah had gambled on being able to hold his position, but with no tracks to follow as the motor bikes took a different route, the Qatari lost time, and with it the chance to take the lead.
While he slipped from second spot overnight, Loeb capitalised on his decision to settle for a later start today, using all his experience and the power of the BRX Prodrive Hunter to go third fastest on the stage, and make what could be a very important move.
The victory hopes of Saudi’s overnight leader Yazeed Al Rajhi ended after 51km when his Toyota Hilux “hit something” and barrel rolled, leaving doubts over his chances of continuing. Sainz won the stage to take a lead of almost 16 mins from Audi team-mate Mattias Ekström.
Another leading contender, Stéphane Peterhansel, also plunged from contention when his Audi was halted by a mechanical problems after 225 km.
Uniquely, today’s action ended precisely at 4pm local time when all the drivers were required to stop and head for the nearest of seven bivouacs set up along the route.
Without any Internet connection and no overall awareness of how their fellow-competitors performed on the day, they were camping out for the night, before beginning the rest of the stage at 7am tomorrow.
Last Updated on 2 months by Middle East News 247