Sebastien Loeb is ready for another tense battle with Nasser Al Attiyah as he looks to build on his lead in the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) when the Rallye du Maroc gets under way on Saturday.
Loeb, driving one of three Prodrive Hunters entered by Bahrain Raid Xtreme (BRX), holds a slender one-point advantage over Al Attiyah as the inaugural W2RC series resumes in Agadir after a seven-month break.
Partnered by Fabian Lurquin, nine-time World Rally Champion Loeb and the rest of the BRX team recently covered 2,500kms of testing in Morocco, in temperatures close to 50C, in preparation not only for the Rallye du Maroc, but also the 2023 Dakar Rally.
“We had a good feeling with the car and it was reliable too, so everything is working well at the moment,” said Loeb. “At the moment we are leading, but we know Nasser will be fast in Morocco and the gap is very small. So we have to fight hard to get some more good points for the title.”
Loeb finished runner up to Al Attiyah in this year’s Dakar before grabbing the championship lead from the Qatari in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge back in March.
Argentinian Orly Terranova and Spanish co-driver Alex Haro, who finished fourth in the Dakar, are also back in action with BRX in Morocco, while Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit will be partnered by Alex Winocq in a third Prodrive Hunter.
After being diagnosed with cancer in March and battling through treatment, Nani Roma rejoined the team months ahead of schedule for testing in Morocco, having already been instrumental in the development of the Hunter.
The two-time Dakar winner has been equally involved in the development of the world’s first all-terrain hypercar, based on the Hunter rally car, which is being built in limited numbers to the individual specifications of select super car enthusiasts.
Roma will be demonstrating and testing the Hunter hypercar for prospective buyers in Dubai in November. He will continue to work with BRX throughout the team’s rally programme, which continues with the Andalucia Rally, final round of the W2RC, from 18-21 October.
However, it is unfortunately too late in the schedule for him to compete with the team in Morocco and Spain next month, and Dakar in January 2023.
From Agadir, Rallye du Maroc heads out for six stages covering 1,575 kms and featuring more sand than seen in previous years. The BRX cars will again be using sustainable Eco-Power fuel, which reduces CO2 emissions by 80%.
Gus Beteli, the BRX Team Principal said: “Following a very positive test in Morocco, we’re very much looking forward to being back rallying against the competition, the clock and the desert.
“Seb, Orly and Guerlain have further improved the package we have through not leaving any angle unexplored for this World Championship push. These are busy but exciting times at BRX."