The Dakar 2024 started today with Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s crew of Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin once more attacking the world’s hardest motorsport event in their Prodrive Hunter. A short prologue stage of 27 kilometres set amongst the stunning back drop of AlUla in Saudi Arabia was more a test of navigation than a flat out thrash that the rally has offered in previous years.
Today’s prologue was purely to decide the starting order for tomorrow’s first big stage towards the heart of Saudi Arabia, and with the organisers of the rally openly stating that this year’s rally will be harder than ever before with 60% new terrain, the relatively short distance is still an important deciding factor come the finish line in 7,981kms time on January 19th.
Therefore for Loeb and Lurquin their aim today was to be inside the top 10 Ultimate (top class) finishers to then be able to choose their starting position off the start line tomorrow, a choice that will take place later tonight, so it was vitally important to be in the right position after today for the 405 kms test in 24 hours time.
Technically the Prodrive Hunter has had evolutionary updates since last year’s event after competing in the 2023 World Rally Raid Championship, however one update that was introduced on the team’s last event in Morocco were new KDR3 BF Goodrich tyres with added protection underneath the tread blocks. Each tyre on the rim now weighs in at 48 kgs in order to withstand the huge forces the car puts upon them when travelling at speed across the punishing rocky tracks. Bahrain Raid Xtreme also continue to run for a third season with sustainable bio-fuel that reduces the CO2 emissions of the car by 80%.
Following the current bivouac in AlUla in the north west of Saudi, the rally moves south west early tomorrow morning to Al Henakiyah with a staggering 418 bikes, quads, cars and trucks making the trek into what the very first organiser of the Dakar, Thierry Sabine, used to say: “A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind.”
Sébastien Loeb - BRX
“For us it was a good stage. We did a clean run with no mistakes using the agility of the car to push for a good time and place but at the finish we saw there are some quick drivers lower than tenth place. The car was great and is going well right from the start so thank you to everyone in the team for making the Hunter feel so good. The navigation today was not so easy but with some lines from the motorcycles in front it made it a little less difficult. Now we wait until tonight and see what tactics and choices other drivers have for tomorrow’s starting positions for the first real stage on this Dakar.”
Gus Beteli, BRX Team Principal
“A good day with us at Bahrain Raid Xtreme. Seb and Fabian are comfortable in the car at the start of this first week which looks to be difficult, finishing with the hardest of all, the 48h Chrono stage over two days. So, let’s get to the rest day and then see what we can do from there. It’s a year of preparation to be here and with that the BRX team are more experienced than ever so it’s a good start for us.”
Prologue Stage, 27kms
3 Loeb/Lurquin Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter
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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 to design and manufacture cars to compete in the Dakar Rally and World Rally Raid Championship. BRX achieved the best finishing position, 5th with Nani Roma on debut in 2021, and 2nd with Sebastien Loeb in both 2022 and 2023. Its Hunter cars run Prodrive EcoPower, a sustainable fuel made from agricultural waste. 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.