STAGE 1A: JEDDAH > HA’IL
DISTANCE: ROAD 595 km STAGE 19 km
DRIVER STAGE POS. STG TIME DIFF TO 1ST OV'LL POS. DIFF TO 1ST
S. Loeb 5 11:33 +00:37 5 +00:37
N. Roma 7 11:45 +00:49 7 +00:49
O. Terranova 10 12:02 +1:06 10 +1:06
The 44th Dakar Rally has started for competitors as they attack the 8,375 kms over the next two weeks around Saudi Arabia for one of the biggest prizes in motorsport with the three car Bahrain Raid Xtreme team fully primed for the huge sporting and engineering challenge ahead. The first stage took place not far from Jeddah with just 19 kms completed; a short test but a very important one too as it was the first ever stage of the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship with the Dakar starting an exciting five event series throughout 2022.
409 bikes cars, quads and trucks left Jeddah with over 2,500 people including 44 in the BRX team spearheaded by the three cars and six crew made up of Nani Roma/Alex Haro, Sebastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin and Orly Terranova/Dani Oliveras in the Prodrive Hunters all in the latest T1+ specification for rally raids. Using the specially blended Prodrive EcoPower sustainable fuel in the 3.5 litre V6 twin turbo engine, the cars produce 80% less CO2 and will save 28 tonnes over the course of the event.
With such a short stage as the opener, all three Bahrain Raid Xtreme drivers set their own pace over a surprisingly varied selection of terrain but come the flying finish in the desert sands Sebastien Loeb was 5th, Nani Roma was 7th and Orly Terranova was 10th.
The drivers are now overnighting 810 kms from the start in Jeddah after a long road section before a 333 km stage tomorrow looping around Hail in the mountainous landscapes of northern Saudi Arabia. It will be a stage riddled with fiendish navigation puzzles typical of the area and the spirit of the Dakar with big rocks in the early stages and some big sweeping sand to finish off.
Nani Roma said: “It’s good, really good to get started and get going on this Dakar. It was fast in the beginning and there were many broken dunes so with the sun in your eyes it was difficult to see, but then after five kilometres there were rocks like a motorcycle trial so we had to be careful to not get a puncture but the rest was good. It was a nice stage. In the beginning my door opened but that only lost us two seconds. After that we drove at a pace we felt right with for the stage and how we felt in the car. Maybe we could’ve gone a little faster but the rally really starts tomorrow. The Hunter is perfect after all the tests we have done, Alex and I are working well so now we will see how our hard work will pan out here in Saudi Arabia.”
Sebastien Loeb said: “In the car and driving against the clock is where we all want to be so it is a great feeling after the preparation we’ve all put in with BRX. Of course, the stage was short but it had a lot in it with a narrow section that had some stones and then later on some broken dunes that were nasty and could have meant trouble. There was a jump at 14km that had a big drop, but Fabian and I made it through there safely to then make a good time. It’s good to be back.”
Orlando Terranova said: “Our target was to be in the top 10 on this first stage and we did it to have a great start. We’re happy with the stage but we had a fright as there was an unseen rock after a crest and we thought we’d done some damage but actually there wasn’t, that’s a testament to the build of the Prodrive Hunter. Dani was great alongside me as it is his first Dakar with the electronic road book even though he’s ridden and co-driven before but with every kilometre we’re getting better and better together.”
Gus Beteli, BRX team principal said: “It was good for us to get the first day out of the way and all three cars through with a good pace so the drivers’ confidence is up high and relaxed in their minds for the bigger challenges we have with the long stages in the next few days. All in all a very positive day today for Bahrain Raid Xtreme.”