Sébastien Loeb demonstrating the speed of his Prodrive Hunter in the dunes of Stage 2
Bouncing back into scoring World Rally Raid Championship points today were Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin in their Prodrive Hunter as they cut through the searing heat of the Abu Dhabi dunes to finish second place on stage after 257 kilometres of desert driving. Such was the intensity and difficulty of the route, that although the car hit a top speed of 170kph, the average speed was a mere 65kph but the Prodrive Hunter once more handled it all with ease.
It was a long night in the bivouac as the Bahrain Raid Xtreme technicians worked flat out to replace Loeb’s engine, doing the swap in record time with every single member of the team helping out in some way following the bad luck of a damaged coolant pipe on the first stage. With a freshly built 3.5 litre twin turbo V6 at his command the nine times WRC champion was happy that the car was flying once more doing exactly what the Prodrive engineers designed and built the car for.
Tomorrow is expected to be a similar type of stage across camel tracks and high dunes that are as tall as some city sky scrapers in amongst the truly spectacular scenery of the Al Dhafra region of the UAE.
Sébastien Loeb: “That was better! First thing is thank you to the team for the big effort they did last night to work on the car until the early hours. We reached the finish in second position today so we’ve taken some precious points for the championship on a difficult stage as there was a lot of heat in the car so that was not easy. There are new rules after Dakar that both digital road books need to validate all the waypoints but one of them didn’t ‘click’ over on one GPS point and yet the other did, so that’s odd and also not our fault. The dunes are different from the Dakar too; it’s really difficult to read them as they are very technical and very short meaning the speed drops right down and that’s the hardest thing to do.”
Gus Beteli, Team Principal: “Sébastien and Fabian did a super job today in as hot a conditions as we’ve seen for a while on a rally raid. Very warm indeed to be at that pace for over three hours so it’s no surprise they both drank all the fluids before during and after the stage. Championship points are important on every stage of this five rally title chase so having some in the bag tonight is good for BRX.”
Source: BRX / Prodrive