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LOEB RUNS OUT OF LUCK AFTER BRILLIANT SURGE IN MOROCCO RALLY

Frenchman takes Bahrain Raid Xtreme within sight of rally lead before desert setback

Sebastien Loeb was thwarted in his bid to give Bahrain Raid Xtreme a memorable victory in the Rallye du Maroc when he ran out of luck after a brilliant surge today in the final round of the World Rally-Raid Championship

IMG 20231018 WA0065 LOEB RUNS OUT OF LUCK AFTER BRILLIANT SURGE IN MOROCCO RALLY

Partnered by Fabian Lurquin in his BRX Prodrive Hunter, Loeb set a scorching pace to lead the rally’s penultimate stage well past the half way point, in the process taking a remarkable 5mins 52 secs off Nasser Al Attiyah, to move within 29 seconds of the Qatari’s overall lead

With a stage win and another outright rally success in his sights, the challenge of the nine-time World Rally Champion ended when his car slid into a ditch after 230km

More drama followed when Al-Attiyah’s Toyota stopped in the dunes, leaving the championship leader and defending champion trying to repair the car with co-driver Mathieu Baumel 11 km from the finish

Stephane Peterhansel in an Audi won the 343 km stage from Zagora to Merzouga from Orly Terranova and Bernardo Graue in the other BRX Prodrive Hunter, who continued their recovery from a second stage suspension problem with a superb drive to clock the second best time

Fifth place on the day was enough to establish Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi in a Toyota as the new rally leader, and he goes into tomorrow’s final leg holding a 3 mins 49 secs advantage over Peterhansel

After podium finishes on the first three days, Loeb and the Prodive Hunter were in their element on the most beautiful, varied and difficult stage of the rally, winding through camel grass for 10kms before a rocky section and a finish among the dunes of Merzouga

The seemingly impossible mission to wipe out Al Attiyah’s 6 mins 16 secs overnight had become a probability at the halfway point, before the rugged Moroccan desert terrain had its say

The other major casualty on the day was Spain’s Carlos Sainz, who came to a complete standstill in the dunes soon after Al Attiyah’s problem, while leading the stage

The rally reaches its conclusion tomorrow afternoon following a 152km stage starting and finishing in Merzouga

IMG 20231018 WA0068 LOEB RUNS OUT OF LUCK AFTER BRILLIANT SURGE IN MOROCCO RALLY

BRX driver comments at end of stage

Sebastien Loeb: “I caught Nasser very early. I think he had a puncture so he changed a wheel. He was already in the dust of (Matias) Ekström. I got him a few times on the sentinel, but he didn’t let me pass. Then finally he let me pass

“I was driving fast, and came to a tricky navigation point which Ekstrom missed. He went straight. So I got past him without overtaking him, and I was first on the track, doing my job, trying to keep my rhythm. Then we reached another very tricky point, our line was not 100% correct, and I saw the hole too late,”

IMG 20231018 WA0067 LOEB RUNS OUT OF LUCK AFTER BRILLIANT SURGE IN MOROCCO RALLY

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