Across the dunes of the UAE, Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin took their Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter to victory today on stage four of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the hardest desert rally in the world. As first car off the start line they opened the road of what was to be 308 kilometres but early morning fog delayed the start of the stage by two hours necessitating organisers cut the length of the test to 173 kilometres for safety reasons.
All of this was taken in the stride of Seb and Fabian who quickly hit their rhythm across a further different type of terrain that this rally that has constantly thrown at the entire world championship field. Broken dunes are the ‘sharp dunes’ that are smooth on the way up but then hold long, hidden drops on the other side and it is these traps that are ready to catch out any competitor on rally raids, but today Frenchman Loeb used all of his 30 years driving experience to be wary of what could be over the next crest in his push for victory.
Even as the temperatures rose to the high 30s, the pair led all the way to the finish for those valuable championship points that are the focus for the team following the bad luck of a damaged water pipe on the first day that has put them out of overall contention on this particular rally.
Bahrain Raid Xtreme are tonight preparing Loeb’s car for the final run across the golden sands of this rally that will encompass 206 kilometres as part of the route north back towards the dazzling lights of Abu Dhabi.
“It’s great to be winning again and on top of the results so thank you to the team for the hard work they’ve done. It wasn’t an easy stage to read as there were some broken dunes and you had to be extra careful as you couldn’t see where they were. We could’ve been in sixth gear in many more places than we were, no problem, but we had to be very careful. We had one landing that was a big hit so it proved you can get caught, but the car took it and we’re back at the bivouac all together. For the championship, today brings more points but we must finish tomorrow to get those points when we return to Abu Dhabi.”
Gus Beteli, Team Principal
“We finally got what we came here for which was a stage win and another five points for the championship. However, tomorrow will be another tough day in the dunes so we need to focus on finishing this rally on a high and get as many points as we can here in the UAE.”
ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE, STAGE 4
Liwa Oasis. 173kms (shortened from 308kms)
S. Loeb / F. Lurquin – Prodrive Hunter – 1st
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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.