JEDDAH: Bahrain Raid Xtreme heads into its third Dakar Rally on Saturday with a four-car team of sustainably fueled Prodrive Hunters tested, developed and ready for the biggest adventure in the world of motorsport.
The 45th edition of the rally tackles some of the toughest desert terrain seen in recent years, and after winning two of the four World Rally Raid Championship events in 2022, the BRX team is raring to go, with car updates, new staff and a hunger for what lies ahead in Saudi Arabia.
After taking the runner-up spot 12 months ago, Sebastien Loeb returns to action with Fabian Lurquin looking to build on last year’s performance in the Prodrive Hunter T1+ that gave BRX eight stage podium finishes overall.
Argentine Orly Terranova, who drove another Prodrive Hunter to fourth place in the 2022 Dakar, will be accompanied by Spaniard Alex Haro who guided him to a superb second place on the Rallye du Maroc in October.
BRX will also be running the GCK Motorsport Hunter for Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq, who together scored a stunning victory the first time out on the Rallye du Maroc. Completing the team line-up will be Lithuanians Vaidotas Zala and Paulo Fiuza.
Nine-time World Rally champion Loeb said: “We have a very good car for Dakar after excellent preparation in Morocco and Andalusia, proving that we’re right up there with the performance of the Hunter.
“Fabian and I are ready to go. We will try to be consistent and get some clean stages with no problems. We will have some long days in the dunes and that’s where you have to stay focused, but that is our target this year. We’re looking forward to it.”
Terranova said: “I’ve been training hard for this, my 15th Dakar. The first week we all know will be hard, with many kilometers to be tackled over new terrain in Saudi Arabia. That will test us, so we must be concentrated and in the best possible shape.”
Chicherit said: “I am very happy to attempt my 12th Dakar with a competitive and reliable car. It is difficult to announce a goal at this moment, but all I can say is we have a good car that will allow Alex and I to fight until the end.”
As part of the BRX drive toward alternative motorsport solutions, each Hunter will again run on Prodrive EcoPower biofuel, created by Coryton from sustainable sources, which produces 80 percent less CO2 than petrol. Engineers have also made subtle but important modifications to the cars following extensive tests in the searing heat of the Sahara Desert.
Dakar 2023 is the biggest undertaking from Prodrive in recent years, with huge logistical coordination from all over Europe. This saw 27 vehicles shipped from Marseille to Jeddah in late November ready for the team to get to the first bivouac at Sea Camp, north of Jeddah, this week.
The route of Dakar 2023 will be the longest in over 10 years and one the organizers promise will be harder than the previous three editions in the Kingdom, venturing into the Empty Quarter for the first time.
Starting on Saturday with an 11-km prologue stage at Sea Camp on the shores of the Red Sea, the rally finishes on the opposite side of the Arabian Peninsula at Dammam on Jan. 15. The total distance is 8,550 km, similar to driving from Jeddah to Shanghai, with 4,705 km of special stages.