Stage nine of the 12 stage Dakar Rally saw Sebastien Loeb /Fabian Lurquin maintain their second place overall following the 287 kms around the overnight halt at Wadi Ad-Dawasir. The stage was fast with Sebastien saying that there was a 34 kilometre section in which he only lifted off the throttle only two or three times proving the strength of the car to take such a prolonged battering at just under the FIA safety limit of 170kph for that amount of time. The Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter car brought the French/Belgian crew to fifth on the stage before team work on the car tonight to prepare for the remaining 885 kms over three stages before the finish this a Friday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Team mates Orlando Terranova/Dani Oliveras had a stage where they thought they could have gone quicker, ultimately they were 13th, but the rewards were there in their consistency against their main rivals as in the Prodrive Hunter they leapt up another position in the overall standings to fourth, the third jump in as many days.
Nani Roma/Alex Haro flew through the the stage to be inside the top ten once more with the Spanish duo fighting through huge amounts of dust left in their faces by other cars that they soon passed before a very tricky rocky section. The confidence in Roma’s face, the team’s development driver from early on in the project, was clear to see even if his co-driver Alex Haro winced a little getting out of the car after cracking a rib at the end of the first week. With physio treatment every morning he will bravely push on to get the best for the BRX team.
Orlando Terranova said: “It’s brilliant that we take another place overall because the strength of the car is really showing in this second week. I do need to change my mindset to push harder with the tyres through the corners as they are so much stronger than the smaller ones we drove with last year, but saying that we had a slow puncture in a difficult navigational section but there are still three days so we will push and keep the car in good condition. One thing that made me laugh was after I hit a bush on the right it dislodged the bonnet clip to eventually make the bonnet fall off but all I could see in my mind was my engineer’s face saying ‘You lost another bonnet!’ after the one I lost in Aragon last July. It’s still possible we can win another stage on this rally.”
Sebastien Loeb said: “That was a good stage as we pushed hard right from the start even if we had one little puncture as maybe I was aggressive in the stones because I’m pushing for time so we had to change the wheel but that was the only thing today. It was quite something in the early kilometres as over 34 kms I lifted maybe twice… I will continue to push hard, concentrate on doing good stages and we will see where we are come Jeddah but we have quite some time to make up at the moment.”
Nani Roma said: “It was a good day! This morning we had many cars in front so lots of dust but we decided to up the speed and go for it without risking too much so it was fantastic today as the second part was much better for my driving too; it worked really well. We have a good start position for tomorrow as we’re not far behind Seb to bring him confidence if he needs it. Alex was suffering a little in the other seat after he hurt his rib in the roll the other day but we’ve done rally well today.”
Gus Beteli, team principal said: “A shorter stage today so there wasn’t much to gain when it is that short so with Seb we lost a minute and gained a minute here and there to the overall lead, so he will keep trying tomorrow. A brilliant day for Orly to get up another spot to fourth overall which is higher than his best ever on Dakar so that’s his obvious target, or better, come Jeddah. He’s driving well even if De Villiers is nine minutes behind him so we‘ll keep a watch on that. For Nani to get tenth was very good as he started way back in the dust which was difficult for him but he managed to keep the pace and finish inside the top ten which will be a great help to the other two cars tomorrow when we return to a ‘normal’ stage length at 370 kms and try to get some time back on Nasser.”