Sebastién Loeb and Fabian Lurquin came a close second today on the sixth stage of the Dakar Rally 2023 with an incredibly tough run through soft dunes, difficult camel grass and hidden dips. The result, just three and a half minutes behind the stage victor, means that Loeb is now up to 6th with his Prodrive Hunter in the overall standings as he fights back after a series of punctures three days ago.
Indeed, all three Hunters finished inside the top 5 over the punishing stage that took its toll on three of BRX’s main rivals, but the strength of the car was evident over the run towards the capital city of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. Guerlain Chicherit with Alex Winocq brought their car home in 4th with Vaidotas Zala and Paulo Fiuza right on their tail with an excellent 5th.
The story of the day was an eight metre drop following a fast section that gave no indication in the topography that the route would suddenly fall away. Seb knocked part of the car’s nose giving superficial damage with all three drivers suffering big hits to their bodies as the cars landed back on their wheels.
The stage was shortened to 333 kilometres from 466 kilometres due to flooding at the planned Al Duwadimi bivouac tonight resulting in the crews having to drive a mammoth 918 kilometres in total, equivalent to driving the entire length of the UK top to bottom, or from Paris to Munich.
Upon arriving at the Riyadh bivouac tonight the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team were greeted with more rain making this one of the wettest Dakars in recent year which sees modified stages tomorrow and the next day but with a new element of a ‘marathon stage’ added. This means only two hours service will be allowed tomorrow night in advance of the cars being put into a parc ferme tomorrow evening at Al Dawadimi before the stage on Sunday which will see the crews return back to Riyadh.
“That was ok for us. A tricky stage with many broken dunes and with the rhythm changing to find the right pace. We had a good stage though, just two little navigation mistakes so we lost about three minutes I think but for the rest it was fine.”
“That was much like the previous two stages; difficult physically with the camel grass we hit all the time and hard on the car but it was good today and held up well. I hope these kind of dunes will be over by the time we go to the Empty Quarter so we’re happy to be here and to have survived this stage because it was quite a challenge.
We’ve seen the Audi crash out and to be honest in that place it could’ve been anybody because it should’ve been marked. You arrived flat out and suddenly there’s this drop of eight metres and that’s not right as this kind of trouble should be marked in the road book.”
Gus Beteli, Team Principal
“Another stage that proves that after the bad luck we had earlier in the week, we’re keeping going and we’re pushing hard for every second possible. This Dakar looks to be getting harder and harder for others but we got all three cars to the finish which is great and now we have a long prep tonight before a new marathon stage tomorrow. This Dakar is not getting any easier!”
Stage 6. Ha’il to Riyadh . 358
2nd. S. Loeb / F. Lurquin – Prodrive Hunter
4th. G. Chicherit / A. Winocq – Prodrive Hunter
5th. V. Zala / P. Fiuza – Prodrive Hunter
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NOTES TO EDITORS
About Bahrain Raid Xtreme
A joint partnership between the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company (Mumtalakat), the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and Prodrive the British motorsport and engineering group formed the joint venture Prodrive International in 2020. Building on Prodrive’s extensive experience in developing championship winning race and rally cars, its aim is design and manufacture cars to compete in the Dakar Rally and World Rally Raid Championship. BRX achieved the best finishing position, 5 with Nani Roma on debut in 2021, and 2 with Sebastien Loeb in 2021. Its Hunter cars run Prodrive EcoPower, a sustainable fuel made from agricultural waste by BRX team partner Coryton. The fuel reduces CO2 emissions by 80% compared to standard fuel.
Prodrive is one of the world’s largest and most successful motorsport and technology businesses. Over 500 staff are employed across its Banbury headquarters and composites manufacturing facility in Milton Keynes. While the company is perhaps best known for motorsport, today it is just one part of an organisation that in the last decade has diversified to become a technology business working in a range of sectors and providing a range of services. Within the Prodrive Group, there are four distinct but interconnected business areas: Motorsport, operating race and rally programmes for vehicle manufacturers and global brands; Advanced Technology, providing innovative technology for the automotive, aerospace, defence, and marine sectors; Composites, developing lightweight composite components for the automotive, aerospace and marine sectors; and Brand& developing bespoke clothing and accessories for leading brands.
About Guerlain Chicherit
Born on 20 May 1978, Guerlain Chicherit made a name for himself in the 2000s as four-time freeride ski world champion. In 2005 he finished 49th in his first Dakar rally. The following year he climbed 40 places, and was fifth in 2020, his best result so far, including a stage win. In 2009 he won the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, taking the Desert Challenge in Abu Dhabi and the Transibérico along the way. After a six-year hiatus, he came back with his own outfit – GCK Motorsport – and a plan to win the Dakar with a zero-emission hydrogen-powered vehicle by 2027.
About GCK Motorsport
Founded in 2017 by Guerlain Chicherit, GCK Motorsport showed excellent potential from the start with several podium places in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. In 2020 the team joined Green Corp Konnection (GCK), a group of industrial companies promoting innovative technologies for greener mobility. The racing arm of the group is a test bed for the ground-breaking solutions, serving to prove their reliability and high-performance in gruelling real-life conditions. One of the group’s targets is to be the first to win the Dakar with a hydrogen-powered car.