Bouncing back into scoring World Rally Raid Championship points today were Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin in their Prodrive Hunter as they cut through the searing heat of the Abu Dhabi dunes to finish second place on stage after 257 kilometres of desert driving. Such was the intensity and difficulty of the route, that although the car hit a top speed of 170kph, the average speed was a mere 65kph but the Prodrive Hunter once more handled it all with ease.
It was a long night in the bivouac as the Bahrain Raid Xtreme technicians worked flat out to replace Loeb’s engine, doing the swap in record time with every single member of the team helping out in some way following the bad luck of a damaged coolant pipe on the first stage. With a freshly built 3.5 litre twin turbo V6 at his command the nine times WRC champion was happy that the car was flying once more doing exactly what the Prodrive engineers designed and built the car for.
Tomorrow is expected to be a similar type of stage across camel tracks and high dunes that are as tall as some city sky scrapers in amongst the truly spectacular scenery of the Al Dhafra region of the UAE.
“That was better! First thing is thank you to the team for the big effort they did last night to work on the car until the early hours. We reached the finish in second position today so we’ve taken some precious points for the championship on a difficult stage as there was a lot of heat in the car so that was not easy. There are new rules after Dakar that both digital road books need to validate all the waypoints but one of them didn’t ‘click’ over on one GPS point and yet the other did, so that’s odd and also not our fault. The dunes are different from the Dakar too; it’s really difficult to read them as they are very technical and very short meaning the speed drops right down and that’s the hardest thing to do.”
Gus Beteli, Team Principal
“Sébastien and Fabian did a super job today in as hot a conditions as we’ve seen for a while on a rally raid. Very warm indeed to be at that pace for over three hours so it’s no surprise they both drank all the fluids before during and after the stage. Championship points are important on every stage of this five rally title chase so having some in the bag tonight is good for BRX.”
ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE, STAGE 1
Liwa Oasis. 257kms
S. Loeb / F. Lurquin – Prodrive Hunter – 8th
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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.