Frenchmen Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq have taken their GCK motorsport entered Hunter to victory on stage 3 of the Dakar with a commanding advantage over the rest of the field showing sheer pace right from the opening kilometres. Fellow Prodrive Hunter driver Orlando Terranova with co-driver Alex Haro confirmed the pace of the car today with third position on the stage as the world’s biggest motorsport event sets up bivouac in Ha’il tonight.
For Chicherit, this is his first stage victory with the Prodrive Hunter on the Dakar following up on his Rallye du Maroc victory last October, becoming the third different driver of a Prodrive Hunter to win a stage of the Dakar joining Sebastién Loeb and Orly Terranova from the 2022 event. For the second season all Hunters are running on Prodrive EcoPower sustainable fuel from Coryton that gives no loss of power over fossil fuels but saves 80% in CO2 emissions when the cars are rallying through the dunes.
Second placed man on the Dakar 2022 Sebastién Loeb with Fabian Lurquin had a rear suspension failure early in the stage plus two unlucky punctures but once fixed flew through the sections gaining on the leaders but the early time loss meant they could only manage 32nd on the test.
Vaidotas Zala and Paulo Fiuza sprung back into the day’s top 10 with a fantastic 7th position into Ha’il, the Lithuanian driving well as he beds himself into the car that’s new to him.
Today’s stage was shortened due to heavy rains, wind and even hail that swept in on first the bikers and then drivers. These conditions made it impossible for the medical and safety helicopters to fly leaving the organisers with no choice but to end the day’s competition early. Even so, 378 kilometres were completed of the 447 kms planned in the road book.
The Ha’il bivouac tonight is in the midsts of ironically a large rain storm with flooding on local roads making work difficult for all the technicians working on the cars in the rally, but with the BRX tents up quickly and the side curtains in place, the Prodrive mechanics are hard at work preparing all four cars for tomorrow’s 425 kilometre stage that loops around the large Saudi city.
“It's great! We were on a good pace without pushing especially hard, just keeping the same strategy that we had from the start of this rally. Sure it’s upsetting what happened yesterday but now we’ve proved what we can do so we’ll stay focussed and do the rally the way we planned by getting some good times and some points for the World Rally Raid Championship.”
“Not a great day. Very early on we had a broken track rod arm at the back so we had to repair it. Later on we had two punctures; one slow one and one big one but once we got going again we were good. A little frustrating as I think today we had the possibility to make a very good time but we’ll do better tomorrow.”
“It was a good day as it was a nice stage to drive especially after changing the set up of the car made it feel good. The navigation was difficult but Alex made a great job and we enjoyed it a lot; the car feels very good.”
“That was a good day. We’re really happy with the car in the stage trying to be careful in the rocky sections but after some tweaks overnight we’ve turned a corner. Two punctures today that happened were my fault so I can explain them. Sure we started quite far back but the car worked very well indeed; a fast enjoyable stage that was quite bumpy too so I’ll have to visit the massage table tonight! Overall it feels great to have a good stage and a good starting position on the road tomorrow.”
Gus Beteli, Team Principal
“What a day! It just shows how much this event changes everyday after a difficult day yesterday we’ve had a first and a third today with Guerlain winning the stage with GCK. It was his plan after yesterday to go for stage positions to gain as many points as possible for the World Rally Raid Championship. It’s great to have all the cars back here in Ha’il in the bivouac even if the conditions are pretty terrible with the amount of rain here”
Overall General Ranking:
1st. G.Chicherit / A.Winocq – Prodrive Hunter
3rd. O.Terranova / A.Haro Bravo – Prodrive Hunter
7th. V. Zala / P. Fiuza – Prodrive Hunter
32nd. S. Loeb / F.Lurquin – Prodrive Hunter
- ENDS -
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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.