Mission accomplished for Sébastien Loeb

10 abril 2024

Sébastien Loeb's debut with a Taurus in the Challenger category generated a lot of buzz at the bp Ultimate Rally-Raid Portugal, but the Frenchman's main objective was to prepare the 2025 season with Dacia...

Hired by Dacia for the Renault Group brand's Dakar and W2RC programs, Sébastien Loeb wanted to take part in the bp Ultimate Rally-Raid Portugal to get to know the Automóvel Club de Portugal event, already thinking ahead to 2025. As the Dacia prototype developed by Prodrive won't officially debut until October, at the Rallye du Maroc, Loeb found a solution in the official Red Bull team in the Challenger category, with the Taurus T3 Max. The prototype built in the Netherlands, which won the last Dakar in the Challenger category with Spain's Cristina Gutiérrez, is lighter and more agile than the T1+, but is also around 35 km/h slower at top speed than the Prodrive Hunter, Mini JCW or Toyota Hilux, for example.

Even so, Loeb showed all his natural talent on Stage 2, where he was second fastest on the special, only behind Nasser Al-Attiyah. At the end of the stage, Loeb and navigator Fabian Lurquin were already leading the Challenger category and in the top five overall, but mechanical problems on the very next stage, on Friday, meant that they lost more than 57 minutes and any chance of a good result in Portugal and Spain.

"There was a lot of water and mud throughout the race and we had to adapt to a different car, from a different category. But the specials here are very good, some are really spectacular. We achieved our goal of getting to know the race so that we can come back here next year with Dacia with more experience of the terrain," said the two-time World Rally Champion, who in January stood on the podium for the fifth time at the Dakar.

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