Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s Sebastien Loeb during testing in UAE.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Nine-times World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb believes that thorough testing in the UAE this week at the wheel of a car powered by a new sustainable fuel can boost his challenge for a first Dakar victory next month.
The world’s most successful rally driver and his Bahrain Raid Xtreme (BRX) team-mates Nani Roma and Orlando Terranova have been taking part in a second wave of tests in the Emirates at the wheel of the Hunter T1+.
Roma, twice a Dakar winner and 2013 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge champion, put the Hunter T1+ through its paces in the Umm Al Quwain desert last week before Loeb and Argentinian driver Terranova took over on Sunday.
“This is extremely valuable testing as we have all the conditions here that we’re going to face in the Dakar,” said Loeb, accompanied by co-driver Fabian Lurquin.
“Added to that, it’s a perfect opportunity for us to work together to concentrate our efforts on navigation which is where the Dakar will be won or lost.”
Terranova, partnered by Dani Oliveras, commented: “It’s my first time in the new car and it is great to experience it in the same conditions as we will find on the Dakar in four weeks’ time. Dani and I have been working on our navigation as it will be crucial in Saudi Arabia not to make any mistakes.”
Roma and his co-driver, Alex Haro, had previously spent five days in the Umm Al Quwain testing the Hunter T1+, which uses fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to petrol.
The fuel is made from generation 2 biofuel manufactured from agricultural waste and efuels created from carbon capture, and will be used in the three BRX cars at the 2022 Dakar, which starts on 1 January in Saudi Arabia.
BRX believes the most demanding motor race in the world can demonstrate that such fuels can be used as an alternative to petrol and diesel in road transport, and immediately make a contribution to fighting climate change.
Over two weeks at the Dakar, the cars will race 8,500km across the deserts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, starting in Ha’il and finishing in Jeddah, with a mid-event rest day in Riyadh.
T1+ cars run on larger tyres, with increased suspension travel and a wider track. The car now benefits from 37” tyres on 17” rims, with suspension travel increased from 280mm to 350mm and the body width increased from 2m to 2.3m to accommodate this.
These changes have necessitated a radical redesign of the Hunter, and Prodrive has used this as an opportunity to make further improvements, including a larger windscreen for improved visibility and a refinement of a number of systems throughout the car.
The nine-times World Rally Champion, partnered by Fabian Lurquin in one of the three BRX Prodrive Hunters, was fastest on the 338-km stage from Hail to Al Artawiya by 3 mins 28secs from overnight leader Nasser Al Attiyah.
Sebastien Loeb remains the biggest threat to Nasser Al Attiyah as the Dakar Rally heads towards its climax after another rewarding day for Bahrain Raid Xtreme in Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain Raid Xtreme rounded off the 44th Dakar Rally with a place in the record books as Nasser Al Attiyah secured his fourth victory in the event on Friday.
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