Looping around Hail in the north of Saudi Arabia the 333 km stage today was the real start of the Dakar for 2022 in which the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team had a great result for Sebastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin who sped through to second place at the line to also place their Prodrive Hunter in second position overall. The stage had a huge variety of terrain. It had high speed sections, complicated navigation and rocks, that even caught out WRC Champion, Loeb, with two punctures, but he made this up with his sheer pace towards the end of the test.
Orlando Terranova/Dani Oliveras finished 11th while Nani Roma/Alex Haro finished 18th following some navigational difficulties after being at the forefront of the stage and thus making the critical choices of direction that so many behind can follow.
The three Prodrive Hunter cars today saved over two tonnes of CO2 emissions by running the Prodrive EcoPower sustainable fuel that is created from agricultural waste material. It reduces carbon emissions by 80% compared to petrol.
Sebastien Loeb said: “It was a long and difficult stage, but the strength of the car allowed us to keep a good rhythm and pace. The navigation was really tricky at some points while in some places it was quite rough. We had two punctures in a place that was just like a trials course and then when we were passing some motorcycles up a hill I had to keep clear of them and go ‘off line’ but there was a rock that I just didn’t see. It was a little bit of a surprise as it was not a stage we expected to be so difficult and complicated, so it is looking hard for the rest of the rally. Overall, a good day and we are happy to have this result.”
Orlando Terranova said: “The stage was very fast with some straight tracks but between 120 and 140km we had two punctures. However, the first one took time because we couldn’t shut the door over the damaged tyre and then after that we saw that the navigation was tricky. We were with Nani and Giniel (De Villiers) as the three cars opening the road but we got lost and that’s where the time went and that makes it such a shame as the car is perfect with great speed.”
Nani Roma said: “The car was so good today with the pace as we’re only just warming up, increasing the speed little by little but sometimes all our hard work doesn’t quite shake out with the navigation that we had today. We returned back to a previous waypoint twice and restarted the navigation with all the caps but still it was not working so again we went 8kms back to find the correct way. It’s very frustrating as we did a great clean stage driving well, safe, no punctures and good speed with the Hunter, while still building because it’s early in the rally, but we just couldn’t find this one waypoint.”
Gus Beteli, BRX team principal, said: “A good day to finish second on the stage for Seb and Fabian. It’s really great to see the car up there for them and the BRX team while the car for the other drivers was reliable and strong. It was a little difficult around 260 kms with the navigation, but that was the same for everyone. We are happy with the cars as it’s still the first big stage. However, there is a long way to go with another 12 days of this rally ahead of us.”