Banbury team's Sebastien Loeb makes it three second places in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

Bahrain Raid Xtreme (BRX) driver scores four more points towards his FIA World Rally-Raid (WRRC) campaign

By Zoe Ashton
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 11:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 11:32 pm
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NEWS FROM STAGE 4

Sebastien Loeb continued from where he left off yesterday in the Arabian dunes, securing his third consecutive second place on stage four of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

The result means the Bahrain Raid Xtreme (BRX) driver scored four more points towards his FIA World Rally-Raid (WRRC) campaign, but has also closed the gap to WRRC competitors ahead of him on the leader board and moved up a place to 7th overall.

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The ADDC is quite different terrain to any of the other events in the WRRC, being run almost entirely on sand and dunes. It is also the first time Loeb has competed on the event and he is up against many competitors with much more experience of the Desert Challenge.

Loeb said: “It was a good day no mistakes, no problems, I just tried to keep a good rhythm to finish the stage and score some points for the championship, but also to try and climb up the general classification. Overall, it was not a very difficult stage. It was a nice blend between dunes and fast sections. It’s my first Desert Challenge and I’ve learnt that the dunes are really tricky. There are much more of them than on any other event, but it’s a really good experience and that will be really helpful for the future.”

Gus Beteli, BRX team principal, said: “Our focus is on the long term goal of the championship title, so second place for the third time is a good result. Nasser is in the terrain he loves and he is very fast and difficult to catch, while Seb is learning every day and showing how fast the Hunter is in the dunes. If we can gain a place by the end of the event tomorrow and move up to 6th that would be great, but our target will be to come home safely and head to the next round neck and neck with Nasser.”

Throughout the ADDC, the Prodrive Hunter has been running on a sustainable generation II bio fuel made from agricultural waste. Called Prodrive EcoPower it reduces CO2 emissions by 80% compared to petrol and will see the team save around two tonnes of the greenhouse gas over the course of the event. The BRX team estimates that if all the competitors had been using this fuel a saving of around 60 tonnes of CO2 emissions could have been made.

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LOOKING BACK TO EARLIER IN THE WEEK -

NEWS FROM STAGE 3

Stage three of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge saw another second place for Sebastien Loeb & Fabian Lurquin and four more points towards their World Rally-Raid Championship (WRRC) campaign. Once again, the sustainably fuelled Prodrive Hunter ran trouble-free in the searing heat of the Al Dhafra desert, while there were issues for several cars currently lying ahead of the pair in overall WRRC standings, enabling Loeb to climb the leaderboard.

Championship leader, Nasser Al Attiyah, won the stage but remains 18 hours behind and much further down the leaderboard following his retirement on stage one.

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Loeb said: “Today was pretty good for us and we had a clean run. The car was good and the pace ok despite the heat and the sand being very soft. We are not really pushing as we are trying to protect our position for the championship as that is our goal.”

Gus Beteli, BRX team principal, said: “Another good day for us with the Hunter continuing to perform well in the hot conditions. Seb’s pace means he is continuing to climb the overall WRRC leaderboard and that is the most important thing for us as our target is to come away from here with the championship lead with three rounds to go.”

In the final standings at the end of the event, T1 cars will score points based on their overall position not their position within the T1 class. Having lost time on the first stage, this means that Loeb is looking to overtake WRRC competitors in all the classes not just T1, in order to maximise his championship points.

NEWS FROM STAGE 2

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Sebastien Loeb has taken second place on stage two of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge after a trouble-free run through the desert sand and dunes in temperatures of nearly 40 degrees. The result keeps him in 6th in the T1 class after a disappointing first stage, which saw him lose nearly two and half hours after a major impact damaged the Hunter’s drivetrain forcing him to run in front wheel drive for nearly half the stage.

With his and the Bahrain Raid Xtreme (BRX) team’s focus on winning the inaugural 2022 FIA World Rally-Raid Championship, it was important to get valuable points for this stage, but also to focus on the final standings at the end of the event.

Loeb’s main rival in the championship, Nasser Al Attiyah, won the stage, but following his retirement on stage 1, he is now 18 hours behind and out of contention.

Loeb said: “It was really tough today. It was a very difficult stage with really soft sand and tricky dunes making it very slow. However, the car was really good and fast and it ran well in the hot temperatures. We have secured four points for the championship and that is the important thing. Now we focus on tomorrow.”

Gus Beteli, BRX team principal, said: “The team did a great job to rebuild Seb’s car last night after the issues on the first stage. It was 39 degrees here, by far the hottest temperatures we have ever run this car and it came through fine even with the low speeds. Nasser’s stage win means he has opened up a two point gap in the championship, however, our aim is to move up the overall event leader board so we secure more points at the end.”

In the World Rally-Raid Championship, the top five championship registered stage finishers overall score points: five for first through to one for fifth. There are then points at the end too for overall placings. There are three stages and 1200km of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge left.