Dakar stage victory number 19 was taken today by Bahrain Raid Xtreme driver Sébastien Loeb with co-driver Fabian Lurquin heading a Prodrive Hunter 1-2-3 finishing just ahead of Vaidotas Zala/Paulo Fiuza and Guerlain Chicherit/Alex Winocq in their sister cars. For Prodrive International to achieve this on their third Dakar is a milestone for all the designers, engineers, technicians and team involved in the BRX Hunter project.
Today’s victory means the Hunter has a total of seven stage victories on the Dakar following three in 2022 and now four so far this year all powered by sustainable fuel from Coryton that reduces the CO2 emissions by 80% while the cars are competing at world level.
The 358 kilometres from Riyadh to Haradh for stage nine was still difficult for all with traps at every twist and turn from tall dunes to deep water crossings following further rains overnight in what has been the wettest Dakar for years. Indeed, Vaidotas Zala nearly got stuck in some deep water but managed to power through even with water everywhere.
Next up is the stage to Shaybah which may seem short at 114kms but is sure to have more and more sand in store as the rally heads to the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia.
“That feels good! To head a Prodrive 1-2-3 is great as I tried really hard in the stage to make a good time. It was very tricky for the navigation in some places meaning we lost some time in two or three places but I think it was tough for everybody because the tracks from the motorbikes were wrong. Overall it’s great to now be up to third place as we head towards the Empty Quarter.”
“We started with really good speed catching cars and then on the tail of Seb. The car in there was awesome as always, really good but I’m just upset with ourselves as we took a lot of time to find the correct route and back on the right track so maybe we lost eight minutes so a big loss. Then we had a puncture so that was…annoying. That could’ve been a win for us but there’s another day."
“Yes, second on the stage! I thought we were having a good day when mid stage we overtook two cars so that was when I though, OK. We started tenth and were overtaking cars well so it was all going in the right direction. We had a big scare through one particular wadi (water) though as we decided to go straight through it but we almost got stuck as there was a lot of water; you couldn’t see anything there was so much water. I pushed on but there were also some spectator cars in there too so I thought if we stop, we’re stuck too!"
Gus Beteli, Team Principal
“What a fantastic day as it shows again just how much this Dakar can change with a 1-2-3 finish with all three cars in one piece with us just going day by day trying to make up the difference to the top after the little troubles we had last week with the punctures. It’s not over yet so we’ll keep pushing with Seb up to third and five stages to go.”
Stage 8. Al Duwadimi to Riyadh. 346 kms
1st. S. Loeb / F. Lurquin – Prodrive Hunter
2nd. V. Zala / P. Fiuza – Prodrive Hunter
3rd. G. Chicherit / A. Winocq – 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.