From stage victory 24 hours ago to a way point that was difficult to find today has shown how things can change so quickly on the Dakar for Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin as they had to double back to validate a navigational point. The Bahrain Raid Xtreme duo continue to remain in second place overall on the Dakar and as motivated as ever to step one place higher in the standings.
Loeb and Lurquin were first on the road this morning out of Al-Duwadimi for a stage that was 458 kms with a 179 kms neutralised section in the middle that the crews had to complete but not under pure flat out rallying conditions so essentially there were 279 kms of rallying against the clock. Their pace was electrifying early on, building an advantage at all the time checks to be over three minutes faster than overall leader Carlos Sainz.
However being first on the road means first over the tracks, the junctions and the waypoints and it was one waypoint that was difficult to find necessitating a U-turn to locate it. Once found the pace again was there but ten minutes were lost.
The huge dunes are now gone until next year but there were some smaller ones on the route today combined with a return of the black volcanic rocks too that can be so tricky causing punctures at any time, however Seb struck the balance today with speed and endurance with the Hunter over such a challenging stage. There were also some big climbs out of the chotts (large, flat dry lake beds) that needed every single horsepower from under Loeb’s right foot to crest.
Ha’il is a regular area in Saudi Arabia for Rally Raids and Baja events so it is well known by many of the competitors with the bivouac based on the outskirts of the city. However the Dakar only stays here for one evening before hot footing it back to AlUla tomorrow which hosted the start of the rally on January 5th.
Four stages remain until the conclusion of the Dakar in Yanbu with still 1,443 kilometres remaining against the clock. The organisers have outlined that the second to last day is going to be tremendously difficult as has regularly been the case for many a Dakar over the years, so as so many say about big motorsport endurance events, there is a long way still to go starting with 436 kms in stage nine tomorrow.
Sébastien Loeb - BRX
“It was a difficult day for us unfortunately and not the result we expected after such a strong start this morning making up some time. We were pushing hard all the stage with a good rhythm but on one way point we struggled to find it and lost around ten minutes so that was very frustrating. We’ve lost six minutes overall to the lead so it is not what we wanted, but it is like this. It’s the Dakar. We will push the max tomorrow and try again.”
Gus Beteli, BRX Team Principal
“As usual it’s never easy on Dakar as it goes up and down everyday but we managed to prove again the pace of the car and how quick Seb and Fabian are with the Hunter. In the dunes they had a gap on everyone else which was great to see but for opening the road you’re exposed to risks and that today was just missing a way point meaning they had to come around and lost the time there they gained at the start of the day. Still, four days to go and it could be the other way around tomorrow.”
Stage 7 Result
Al Duwadimi - Ha’il, 458kms stage
10th Loeb/Lurquin Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter + 11m00s
2nd Loeb/Lurquin Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter +24m47s
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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.