Through 266 kilometres of Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge dunes, Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin forged through to take their Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter tantalisingly close to the stage victory today finishing just 48 seconds back from winner Nasser Al-Attiyah in nearly four hours of running. It once more shows the competitive and close nature of the World Rally Raid Championship in 2023 with no quarter being given by any team in the relentlessly difficult skill of driving fast in the desert.
Loeb may well be further down the overall order due to an engine change earlier this week but he has lost none of his drive and focus to push forward for World Rally Raid Championship points on each of the stages in this rally. Sunlight, heat and speed have everything to do with winning at this level but it’s Loeb who has kept his cool.
Proof that the pace of these rally raids is intense, the winner of the stage and arch rival to Loeb, Nasser Al-Attiyah, had a roll within sight of the finish and although he got the car over the line, is out of the rally tonight in a turn of events that has thrown open the title chase at this second rally of five in the World Rally Raid Championship.
Tomorrow sees a further 308 kilometres through the enormity of the dunes that spread across the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman and with another hot day in store, Bahrain Raid Xtreme are preparing Loeb’s car tonight for another fast stage.
“Today with this slightly cooler weather the temperature in the car was thankfully much better as yesterday’s heat was really hard for us. There was some camel grass out there today but not much, it was mainly dunes and some fast flat areas that made the day so it was a much quicker stage than yesterday. We will continue to push to score points in the stages as we’ve done today.”
Gus Beteli, Team Principal
“A good day today as the cooler conditions helped especially for the driver and co-driver to keep them comfortable in the dunes and we had good pace, returning back to where we were in the second week of the Dakar. As always we’ll keep the pressure on for the remainder of the rally to get as many points as possible for the championship.”
ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE, STAGE 3
Liwa Oasis. 266kms
S. Loeb / F. Lurquin – Prodrive Hunter – 2nd
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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.