Fabulous video footage - Banbury Prodrive's remaining driver, Nani Roma, moves into fourth place in the Dakar Rally 2021

Banbury's Prodrive have poured all their resources into driver Nani Roma's challenge on the ninth day of the infamous Dakar Rally.

Wednesday, 13th January 2021, 12:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th January 2021, 12:38 pm

The move up a place has was balm on the bitter disappointment of Sebastien Loeb being forced to retire during the marathon stage of the race.

Stage nine of the Dakar Rally yesterday took competitors around a looped stage, leaving and returning to Neom; 579km in total, with 114km of road and 465km of special stage driving.

Nani Roma, was reunited with his support team after two days of the marathon stage, with no overnight assistance. Roma began the day’s stage on the shores of the Red Sea, tracking the coast for a stage of mixed driving conditions; sandy coastline followed by rocky terrain.

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Nani Roma tackles the ninth stage of the Dakar Rally 2021

The two-time Dakar Rally winner experienced almost no problems throughout the lengthy stage, paying testament to the Hunter’s competitiveness, returning the car to the bivouac in an almost immaculate condition, despite a long and testing day of driving.

Roma continued his consistent run of form through stage nine, finishing in 10th with a stage time of 05:12:06, +21:39 behind the leader. This result means Roma maintains his position in 5th overall, +2:42:38 behind the leader, reducing the gap to fourth place by 16 minutes and is now just 26 minutes behind Jakub Przygonski.

Commenting after arriving back at the bivouac in Neom, Nani Roma said: “At the beginning of the stage it was very beautiful, right next to the sea. Then we went into the rocky areas, which I didn’t like very much. It was a really long stage, but we did well. Alex did a good job on navigation and I tried to be as focused as possible. The car was fantastic, and we are looking forward to tomorrow. We will go out and try not to make any mistakes and see how we do - catching fourth is definitely possible.”

Speaking from Neom after his forced withdrawal from the Dakar Rally following yesterday’s marathon stage, Sebastien Loeb said: “This isn’t the result we were expecting. When we arrived here in Saudi, we wanted to secure a top position. In the end it was a bit complicated, but we know that Dakar is a tough race. Overall, I think we had a good performance; the Hunter showed good pace and reliability. We had two main problems that made us lose a lot of time – they are not big problems and will be easy to solve ahead of our next races. I am not worried about that. I am sorry that we have had to stop the rally early, but I’m confident so it’s looking good for the future.”

Out of the desert but still in challenging conditions. Nani Roma moves up into fourth place in the Dakar Rally 2021

Speaking in Neom after stage nine, Prodrive chief engineer, Richard Thompson, added: “Yesterday’s marathon stage was obviously hugely disappointing for the team and resulted in Sebastien Loeb having to retire from the rally. We redoubled our efforts on Nani’s car last night, doing a bigger service than we would usually do on a standard evening to ensure we had a trouble-free day today, which we did. Nani had a great day, with barely any issues, so we are really pleased about that. The competitiveness of the Hunter is clear, and we will be keeping our focus on the cars in front for the rest of the stages. We are using each stage as a learning for 2022 where we’ll be going after the win, rather than protecting our position, as we’ve had to do this year.”