From sixth to fifth in the overall standings of the Dakar Rally was the order of the day for Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s Sebastién Loeb and Fabian Lurquin over the 398 kilometre seventh stage of the Dakar Rally, the Frenchman saying it was much more of a ‘Dakar stage’ with fast tracks and sweeping dunes.
Fellow Prodrive Hunter drivers Vaidotas Zala/Paulo Fiuza narrowly missed out on the stage win, brilliantly driving to second and only beaten by Saudi driver Yazeed Al Rajhi who is literally in his own back yard. Guerlain Chicherit with Alex Winocq flew through to catch many cars in front of them making good time on the way to third today but just lost out after leading the split times midway before a slow puncture and a smashed windscreen curtailed the excellent run.
After 45 years of the Dakar Rally there was something new this afternoon. Due to the changes of stages and bivouacs in recent days, there was a remote service for the cars some 220 kms away from Riyadh but only for two hours meaning it was much like the olden days of the WRC. Speed, efficiency and teamwork was the key with the Prodrive team taking this in their stride fixing all three cars with bodywork, servicing, brake and a windscreen change with time to spare.
Tonight with the cars in Parc Ferme only 95 kms away from tomorrow’s stage start, the drivers are sleeping there while the team returns to Riyadh. The next stage will be 345 kms for the drivers before they too return to the Saudi capital city tomorrow night.
“We had a good day considering the complicated navigation as we were second on the road at the start but soon we passed Nasser after 80kms Then it was not easy as we were first in the dunes without any motorbike lines to have as a guide. That was a difficult job but at the finish we lost a bit of time to our rivals however we’ve made a place up in the overall standings so that’s great. The other good thing that it was a good, fast Dakar stage with sand and gravel, no rocks, so I hope it’ll more of the same again.”
“That stage was amazing. We had such good speed with the car at the beginning so I was pushing managing to overtake all the other guys but with a slow puncture I slowed down to try and get to the end…but we had to change it. That meant the other guys caught us back up but then we all got lost but we managed to break away again, but they caught us again. It will make great TV I’m telling you! The car was fantastic today giving us such a buzz in there.”
“That was a good day out there. Paulo did a great job on the road book as it was really tricky in some places; he was outstanding. We had the tyre pressures right so that went well too. Most surprising was that we didn’t see anybody else all day until we’d crossed the line so it was the whole day of just me and Paulo in the desert. Second is close but now we know what we can do and need to do over the remaining seven stages.”
Gus Beteli, Team Principal
“That was a challenging stage as we were up front and with no tracks from the bikes (they didn’t run today) Seb was able to go ahead of Nasser but it was really tricky on the navigation so we did expect a little bit of lost time somewhere. It’s a fantastic result for all three Prodrive cars plus they’re in one piece before the marathon stage after the two hour service that was great to have everyone helping and part of it.”
Stage 6. Riyadh to Al Duwadimi. 398 kms
2nd. V. Zala / P. Fiuza – Prodrive Hunter
3rd. G. Chicherit / A. Winocq – Prodrive Hunter
9th. S. Loeb / F. Lurquin – 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.