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FIA World Rally-Raid Championship: Sebastien Loeb renews duel with Nasser Al Attiyah

Sebastien Loeb

Bengaluru, September 30: French rally legend Sebastien Loeb is ready for another tense battle with Qatari ace Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah as he looks to build on his lead in the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) when the Rallye du Maroc, the penultimate round of the FIA event gets under way on Saturday (October 1).

2022 marked an exciting new chapter for cross-country rallying, as the discipline became the seventh World Championship under the governance of the FIA.

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, Morocco, after a five-month break.

Partnered by Fabian Lurquin, nine-time World Rally Championship (WRC) winner 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.

Loeb vs Al Attiyah

Loeb vs Al Attiyah

"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.

Roma recovers

Roma recovers

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 hyper car, based on the Hunter rally car, which is being built in limited numbers to the individual specifications of select super car enthusiasts.

Testing Hunter

Testing Hunter

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.

Epic adventure

Epic adventure

The five-round inaugural FIA World Rally-Raid Championship kicked off with the famous Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, an epic adventure in the spectacular sand and dunes of the Empty Quarter. The Championship remained in the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge before heading to central Asia and Kazakhstan, where the arid scrublands and deserts of the world's largest landlocked country provide another different challenge.

Rally Andalucia will mark the World Championship's visit to Europe, while Rallye du Maroc on the African continent rounds out the season with its wide range of technical, fast and sandy tracks, as well as dunes.

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Story first published: Friday, September 30, 2022, 11:33 [IST]
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