Sebastien Loeb gave Bahrain Raid Xtreme a superb maiden triumph in the World Rally-Raid Championship today with a thrilling victory in the Andalucia Rally.
Partnered by Fabian Lurquin in the BRX Prodrive Hunter, the Frenchman won the final round of the championship after an epic battle on the closing stage with Nasser Al Attiyah, whose second place overall gave him the drivers’ world title.
Loeb reached the finish in the ancient port city of Cadiz with a six-seconds winning margin over the Qatari, who set the fastest time on the day in his Toyota Hilux.
After taking almost 12 minutes off Al Attiyah as he powered his way to a stage win 24 hours earlier, the nine-time World Rally champion produced another impressive drive to record an historic first rally win, and surely the first of many, for BRX.
It was also the second success in a row for the Prodrive Hunter, following the victory in Morocco earlier this month by Guerlain Chicherit, who finished fourth in Andalucia behind Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi in third.
“This is fantastic to bring Bahrain Raid Xtreme their first World Rally-Raid Championship victory, as we’ve worked hard since 2020 to be able to get this win,” said Loeb at the finish.
“It’s really great for everyone. In 2022 the fight with Nasser was always very tough, but I pushed hard all the way through this stage and yet we were only six seconds apart.
“So that was a great battle over a rally like this, with such tricky stages. Over the season, we’ve had good performances from the Prodrive Hunter. We’re there now with the speed, and were it not for some bad luck on the last rally, we’d be even closer to the title.
“Taking the fight to the last day of the championship says so much for BRX, as we learn more and more against others who’ve had more time in rally raids, but this means we are even more prepared.
Chicherit commented: “It’s been amazing training again with good mileage in the car. That’s built more confidence for myself and for the navigation because it was quite tricky in many places.
“We had some mechanical issues here that we didn’t have in Morocco, which is just the way it goes sometimes in motorsport, but that victory will be a memory I’ll have for a long time.
“I arrived late here as I was with my pregnant wife for as long as possible in France, but I now need to go as I hear she’s in the hospital and it’s happening now.”
Loeb’s input has been crucial in the development of the world’s first all-terrain hypercar, based on the Hunter rally car, which will be unveiled for prospective buyers in Dubai next month. The car is being built in limited numbers to the individual specifications of select super car enthusiasts.
The two Hunters which passed another major test in southern Spain this week both completed the rally running on sustainable Eco-Power fuel, which reduces CO2 emissions by 80%.