A hat trick of Dakar stage victories was completed by Sébastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin with their Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter today following the first of the stages that are dominated by big dunes in the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia. Starting first on the road the pair scorched ahead with their Prodrive Hunter, taking fastest time at every section on the stage to make it four wins for Loeb so far this year. With Guerlain Chicherit’s GCK Motorsport car taking a stage win earlier in the rally, it now means the Hunter has taken 50% of the stage victories in this 2023 Dakar Rally.
Loeb and Lurquin are currently leading the 2023 World Rally Raid Championship at this point in the rally due to their consistently strong stage finish positions but as is said in the Dakar bivouac daily, ‘There’s a long way to go.’
With the route passing within reach of Bahrain, it was great to see many Bahraini flags and supporters at the stage start, proving this is a growing international sport with a huge following.
Guerlain Chicherit/Alex Winocq started the stage strongly, running well inside the top 10 but finished in 14th position after the driver felt a little ill over the test and therefore decided to take it steady over the remaining kilometres before the marathon stage tomorrow and Friday.
Second yesterday into Haradh, Vaidotas Žala/Paulo Fiuza also had a great start to the stage but 44 kilometres in broke the suspension so is waiting for the service truck to arrive and fix it in order to exit the stage.
The bivouac tonight is set in amongst huge dunes in the south eastern part of Saudi Arabia with limited communication to the outside world, almost recreating the atmosphere and spirit of African Dakars before the age of the internet and cell phones.
Tomorrow sees over double the mileage of today before the crews rest 425 kilometres away from the Bahrain Raid Xtreme service team so any repairs on the car will have to be done by the drivers before they return to Shaybah 48 hours from now.
“That was a very good day to complete three wins together over the last three stages of the rally. The car was good right from the start through big dunes and some amazing scenery but we had no time to look. We almost did not expect to win the stage starting first on the road but we’ll take it anyway so maybe being first on the road is ok for us so we will see tomorrow. What we also did today was to take five minutes to second overall ahead of us so, yeah a very good day.”
Gus Beteli, Team Principal
“Another day and we’ve taken another win! It’s great to see the pace of the car and take the World Rally Raid Championship points for Seb and then see where we are towards the end of this mammoth rally. We’ve got 16 minutes to catch second place which is a target for Seb but after that we can only keep pushing but today has been a very good day at BRX.”
Stage 10. Haradh to Shaybah. 11 4kms
1st. S. Loeb / F. Lurquin – Prodrive Hunter
14th. G. Chicherit / A. Winocq – Prodrive Hunter
124th. V. Žala / P. Fiuza – 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 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.
About Guerlain Chicherit
Born on 20 May 1978, Guerlain Chicherit made a name for himself in the 2000s as four-time freeride ski world champion. In 2005 he finished 49th in his first Dakar rally. The following year he climbed 40 places, and was fifth in 2020, his best result so far, including a stage win. In 2009 he won the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, taking the Desert Challenge in Abu Dhabi and the Transibérico along the way. After a six-year hiatus, he came back with his own outfit – GCK Motorsport – and a plan to win the Dakar with a zero-emission hydrogen-powered vehicle by 2027.
About GCK Motorsport
Founded in 2017 by Guerlain Chicherit, GCK Motorsport showed excellent potential from the start with several podium places in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. In 2020 the team joined Green Corp Konnection (GCK), a group of industrial companies promoting innovative technologies for greener mobility. The racing arm of the group is a test bed for the ground-breaking solutions, serving to prove their reliability and high-performance in gruelling real-life conditions. One of the group’s targets is to be the first to win the Dakar with a hydrogen-powered car.