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Dakar 2024: The quiet before the desert storm
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Dakar 2024: The quiet before the desert storm

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Plotting their way through the biggest dunes so far, Loeb and Lurquin opt for strategy over pure speed.

The first of the big dunes have been driven today on Dakar 2024 as Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin sped through the short 118km stage that has brought the bivouac to Shubaytah right over to the east of Saudi Arabia. Their Prodrive Hunter was perfect for the spectacular terrain, but the day was not about speed but moreover positioning at the end of it in preparation for the big 48 hour Chrono Stage which will take place over the next two days and a staggering 532 kilometres with an overnight stop for the drivers without the Bahrain Raid Xtreme service crew.

Loeb and Lurquin therefore opted to lose a little time today to be in the right place off the start line for the two day marathon tomorrow. Think of it more as a game of chess with who leads and who-follows-who in the gargantuan expanse of the Empty Quarter. Ominously, Dakar route director David Castera has said that he has made the 48 hour Chrono particularly difficult to the extent he will not make any friends afterwards.

The terrain in the Empty Quarter is nearly 100% dunes that cover an area similar to France over the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman with sheer mountains of sand rising straight out of ancient dry lake beds (chotts) but it is precisely this area where Loeb dominated 12 months ago in his Prodrive Hunter, taking all the stage victories.

One thing that locals have warned the drivers about is the fact that there has been little to no rain in the area of late meaning that the dunes are even drier than normal and thus softer than ever. Combined with the long run over two days and limited sleep for the crews and a different route for bikes and cars tomorrow, it looks to be quite an historic couple of days in store for the Dakar.

Sébastien Loeb - BRX : “It was a good day for us. We did a clean stage with the car working really well over these big dunes. We’ve opted to lose some time to ultimately catch it back tomorrow and the next day in the 48 hour Chrono. We have bet on this plan so we will see tomorrow.”

Gus Beteli, BRX Team Principal: “Today has been the beginning of the dunes. A taster of the 48 hour Chromo that will start tomorrow that will be 600+ kilometres of dunes but we’re in a good place to start that huge stage and get some time back on the leaders.”

Stage 5 Result
Al Hofuf - Shubaytah, 118kms
40th Loeb/Lurquin Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter

Overall Standings
9th Loeb/Lurquin Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter +43m00s

 

 

Source: Bahrain Raid Xtreme's official press release

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