AGADIR: Bahrain Raid Xtreme return to desert action in the Rallye du Maroc at the weekend, with Sebastien Loeb and Orly Terranova both looking toward a repeat of last year’s milestone victory in the event for the Prodrive Hunter.
Nine-time World Rally Champion Loeb is reunited with Fabian Lurquin, who has recovered from surgery for the final round of the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), while Terranova combines with a new co-driver, fellow-Argentine Bernardo Graue, in a second BRX Prodrive Hunter.
The 2,240-km event gets underway with Friday’s prologue near Agadir on the Atlantic coast, before following a trail of five desert stages in an extreme test of human and mechanical endurance to the finishing point at Merzouga near the Algerian border.
It was in Morocco 12 months ago that another Frenchman, Guerlain Chicherit, took the Hunter to its maiden rally victory, with Loeb giving the car its first win for BRX just over two weeks later in Andalucia.
This will be Loeb’s first W2RC outing since April’s Sonora Rally in Mexico, where Lurquin broke his shoulder during a tumble into a dry riverbed, just 24 hours after the BRX pair had secured a splendid stage victory.
Since then, the WRC legend has remained busy and successful behind the wheel in Rallycross, Extreme E and rallying, but he is relishing the chance to pursue another desert rally triumph in his BRX Prodrive Hunter.
“To get back in the Hunter, I’m really looking forward to it,” Loeb said. “Morocco is a very good rally with tracks, dunes and a bit of everything, so it will be interesting once more.
“The nice dunes are in Merzouga, but I like the fast tracks too with the good grip, which are a bit like WRC in some places. That’s what I enjoy with this car.”
A close runner-up in Morocco last year, Terranova is equally enthusiastic about stepping back into the freshly built Hunter, which has been modified at Prodrive’s UK base with the sole aim of a BRX victory in mind.
“Morocco was a great rally last year for me with a second place, and this time I aim to push just as strongly as we cross toward the dunes at Merzuoga,” said the Argentine. “I enjoy the tracks and the spirit of this rally, so I’m very much looking forward to the stages.”
Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah, who has won the rally six times, goes into the event holding a commanding 51-point lead over his nearest rival, Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi, and is poised to retain the W2RC drivers’ title that he took ahead of Loeb last season.
Source : Arab News