Sebastien Loeb passed another major Dakar Rally test with the Bahrain Raid Xtreme as team-mates Nani Roma and Orlando Terranova maintained their momentum on yesterday’s tough third stage.
After recording a maiden stage victory for BRX 24 hours earlier, Loeb and co-driver Fabian Lurquin in one of the three Prodrive Hunters lost a significant amount of time with drivetrain problems for most of the 255-km special.
Despite the setback, the nine-times World Rally Champion retained second position overall behind Nassar Al Attiyah, who leads by 37 mins 40 secs, with another nine demanding stages remaining.
Loeb was forced to battle through 250km of the stage with just front wheel drive, but his skill and experience saw the Frenchman hold on to his overnight position as Al Attiyah’s closest challenger.
Roma and Alex Haro set the fourth fastest time on a stage made up of tracks and dunes which looped around Al Qaisumah to climb six places on the day and claim 11th position.
After some changes to their Prodrive Hunter following the previous stage, Terranova and Dani Oliveras maintained their rhythm to score another top ten finish on the day to maintain their tenth place overall.
Loeb completed the stage to say: “We broke something in the drivetrain early on in the stage, so we did 250 km without full drive which meant crossing the dunes was really tough.”
“Of course I’m disappointed to lose some time, but I am happy to have got to the end of the stage losing only 33 minutes as it could have been worse. We are second overall on the Dakar in the first week. Everyone knows how hard this event is. So there’s plenty of time to pull things back.”
Roma said: “It’s been a great day on the stage today as it has brought back the feeling I had when I started rally raids. We now have good speed following some lost time earlier in the rally.”
Terranova said at the end of the stage: “I start to feel even more confident in the car and I think that tomorrow we can take the next step and take a little bit more risk.”