Leaders of the 2023 FIA World Rally Raid Championship with their Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter, Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin head towards a new challenge in Mexico this week with the third round of the title chase, the Sonora Rally. Winners of nine of the 19 stages that have taken place so far this year at Dakar and then Abu Dhabi, Loeb/Lurquin have a 16 point lead over arch rival Nasser Al-Attiyah as the front runners head towards a new rally for the majority of drivers in the north of Mexico.
With over 1200 kilometres of stages over a prologue and five legs, there are 55 points up for grabs in what will be another intense rally for the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team as the temperatures approach 40 Celsius and even warmer inside the car, but the team have planned ahead and made updates for the crews to keep cool inside the car during the Sonora stages.
For Loeb, he’s returning to Mexico where he won the WRC round there six times but the Sonora Rally will hold many differences from the tracks where he was victorious before with washes, rocky mountains, sandy beach strips and some big dunes but all in all very different from the neighbouring Baja 1000 tracks that are familiar to the local off road racers.
The Prodrive team will not only have the all red Hunter of Loeb and Lurquin running at the forefront, but also the sister car that Guerlain Chicherit/Alex Winocq took to two stage wins on the Dakar earlier this year. The French duo know they can again fight for stage wins and victory with the GCK Motorsport car just as they did on the Rallye du Maroc last year, the first time they drove the car in anger.
Standing out in their resplendent yellow will be a further two new Prodrive Hunters for the Brazilian based X Rally squad with Cristian Baumgart/Alberto Andreotti and Marcos Baumgart/Kleber Cincea at the helm. Winners of the Sertões Rally in Brazil a record five times, a stunning achievement as the rally covers 40% more distance than the Dakar, the Hunters will be supported with technical assistance from Prodrive and data overlays to enable them to maximise the strengths of the Hunters. After the rally they will head to South America for the X Rally team to use in the ultra competitive Jalapao and Sertões events before further events in the World Rally Raid Championship in 2023.
The Sonora Rally starts Sunday evening 23 April with a prologue and then five stages from Monday through to Friday. Rally time is GMT -6 hours.
"I’m looking forward to go there and discover a new place. Of course I have very good memories from Rally Mexico in the WRC as I always enjoyed that rally so hopefully it’ll be the same with this WRRC round too. It’s always a new adventure whenever there’s a new event for anyone and Sonora certainly has that feel to it. We’re leading the Championship so the goal will be to finish the rally still in front in the standings, so that’s the target. It’s been quite a few weeks that Fabian and I have been out of the car so we’ll be happy to get back behind the steering wheel and have some fun on the stages."
Gus Beteli, BRX Team Principal
“Everyone at Bahrain Raid Xtreme is looking forward to the next round of the World Rally Raid Championship in Mexico as it is a new challenge for everyone and great to go to South America and try new terrain and tracks for all the drivers. We’re obviously looking forward to keeping the good stage results each day and retains he lead of the championship with Seb. We’d also like to welcome our new partners, X Rally, who will be running two Prodrive Hunters with all our support to give them a good result too. We’re all very much anticipating this new step.”
WORLD RALLY RAID CHAMPIONSHIP, AFTER 2 OF 5 ROUNDS
Sébastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin
Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel
Yazeed Al-Rajhi/Timo Gottschalk
Martin Prokop/Victor Chytka
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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.