Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Sebastien Loeb has taken a one point lead over Nasser Al Attiyah in the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) after claiming third place on the final stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
The Bahrain Raid Xtreme driver in the Prodrive Hunter finished sixth overall of the W2RC competitors, putting him on 112 points after two rounds.
The final stage did not start well for Loeb, who suffered a double puncture on his sustainably-fuelled Hunter, dropping time and costing him second place. He then had to drive cautiously for the remaining 200 km, without a spare tyre, to ensure he finished the stage.
Loeb said, “We had two punctures after we landed very heavily on one side and lost three minutes changing tyres. After that everything was good. We lost a lot of time on the first day when we broke the transmission, but we managed to repair it and get to the end.”
“After this, we were able to do four good stages and get good points for the championship. Not as many as we hoped, but with Nasser’s retirement on stage one, it was enough to take the lead, so we are happy.”
He added, “It was my debut on the Desert Challenge, and it was really special and beautiful. We are in dunes like nowhere else. It is very exciting to drive in these conditions, but it is tricky and you can crash very easily with some big drops. But it has been important to gain experience.”
It was Loeb and Co-driver Fabian Lurquin’s determination to complete stage one after damaging the drivetrain and having to enact repairs, that ensured they finished so high up the W2RC classification for the Desert Challenge to secure the championship lead.
Gus Beteli, the BRX Team Principal said, “After the issues on stage one, we are very happy to have come away from the Desert Challenge in the championship lead.”
“It is testament to Seb and Fabian that they never gave up and got to the end of the first stage, otherwise we would be well behind Nasser in the championship.”
“The terrain on the next three rounds should suit Seb, so I think we are still on course for our ambition of winning the drivers’ title.”