ADDC 2023: Loeb and BRX lead into Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

ADDC 2023: Loeb and BRX lead into Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

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Sébastien Loeb leads the World Rally Raid Championship heading to the ADDC

Bahrain Raid Xtreme are back in action this week as leaders of the 2023 World Rally Raid Championship for round two of the title chase, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge offering 2,170kms of hot, demanding and relentless stages in what has become known as the world’s ultimate desert rally. Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin lead the championship with their Prodrive Hunter following the Dakar Rally opener in January and come to Abu Dhabi, after their record consecutive run of stage victories last month in Saudi Arabia, keen to return to the similar dunes just over the border from where they had so much success

With the lion’s share of the route based in the south of the UAE around the Al Dhafra region, it will be familiar territory for the two Prodrive Hunters entered on the event for Loeb/Lurquin and the GCK Motorsport entry of Guerlain Chicherit/Alex Winocq as the dunes form the most northerly part of the Empty Quarter, a huge desert that is 1,000kms long and 500kms wide that reaches over not only the UAE but also Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman. Seemingly endless, the dunes will provide some of the most spectacular scenery in this year’s five round championship that will lead on towards Mexico, Argentina and Morocco.

The Prodrive Hunter was unbeaten during the second week of the Dakar Rally across this terrain but with the pace of the championship there has been no stone left unturned in the preparation of the cars to keep BRX at the top of the Drivers, Co-Drivers and Manufacturers tables. This lead was achieved with strong team work, engineering prowess all while using Coryton’s sustainable fuel powering the Hunter’s 3.5 litre twin turbo engine that produces 80% less CO2 emissions to win nine out of the fourteen stages on Dakar plus a dominant 1-2-3 stage finish.

With the start of the rally in Abu Dhabi itself before moving on to Al Dhannah and Al Dhafra, this 32nd running of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is sure to be another classic in the ever-growing world of Rally Raid with the winners list since 1991 reading like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the sport making success here all the more significant. The prologue takes place on Sunday 26th February leading to 2,170kms and five stages based around the Qasr Al Sarah bivouac in the heart of the dunes before the finish on Friday 4th March back in Abu Dhabi on the shores of the Persian Gulf

Sébastien Loeb: “I’m very happy to return to Rally Raid after Dakar where we saw that we had some very good speed, especially in the dunes, so we are leading the championship. Of course it would be great to come out of Abu Dhabi still at the top of the points but I remember last year that it was not easy as Nasser (Al-Attiyah) was quick, but I hope that what we saw on Dakar means that we will be able to fight with him so that’s the main target for Fabian and I. I look forward to having a good clean rally so we can continue to build upon our current pace in the Prodrive Hunter.”

Guerlain Chicherit:The six weeks between the Dakar Rally and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge were not too much for me! My body was very tired after the 15 days of rallying so I’ve recovered and trained well with a specialist to start this second event of the season in the best condition. We know that our Hunter performs well, especially in the dunes that make the ADDC so special. It is an event that I like very much as I won it a long time ago in 2009.”

Gus Beteli, Team Principal: “We’re very much looking forward to Abu Dhabi especially after such a strong showing in the second week of Dakar over the similar dunes so we’re hoping to carry that pace over to these stages. As leaders of the World Rally Raid Championship the target is to finish well and maintain the speed we have with the Hunter before we move on to Mexico in April."

Source: Prodrive / Bahrain Raid Xtreme

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