Sebastien Loeb and his inseparable Daniel Elena will never forget the night they spent in the Arabian desert this past Friday. They were in good control of the seventh stage of the Dakar when at kilometer 97 the BRX Hunter T1 struck hard on one of the multiple bump landings and broke the left rear suspension triangle into two parts.
As they did not carry the piece with them, they had to wait for the service truck of Jordi Esteve, Rafa Tibau and Arnald Bastida. But when they arrived they discovered a mistake in the marking of the pieces and they had two right triangles and none left so Man had to turn around for the piece and night fell. And they still had another 250 kilometers to go to the bivouac alone in the darkness of the Arabian desert.
“Spending a night in the dunes was not on the roadbook,” the Alsatian joked this Saturday at the Ha’il bivouac. “Really, it’s a shame, because up to that point stage 6 was doing well for us with easy navigation and less rocks on the road. I decided to attack, but at km 97 there were several potholes and when landing one I hit the next. They weren’t big, but we broke the left triangle into two parts, ”he explained.
“Surprisingly, the first service truck to reach km 97 did not have a replacement triangle. It’s a mistake, but the problem is that all the preparation was done in a very short time. There was a failure to mark the pieces and there were two right triangles, instead of one left and one right. The truck went to look for the part we needed, but it took a long time, ”he continued.
But not everything was negative for the nine-time world rally champion tandem Since in the middle of the desert some strangers, after asking for some photos, set up a tent for them, served them tea and kept them company until they could resume their march.
“In spite of the bad luck we had, at least the helicopter arrived and gave us food and water. There were some locals who stopped: first they asked us for photos and then they set up a tent, made tea, hot soup and kept us company. It was like a bivouac in the middle of nowhere ”, explained the Alsatian champion.
“The best of those 250 km were the dunes. It was all very quiet. I had never experienced anything like this. We were completely alone in the dark. It was cool. But we were careful not to get hooked, “said Loeb, who entered around two in the local morning in position 54, at 10:10:03 behind the winner Sainz, although they will sacrifice one of their three wild cards to be repositioned at the start this Sunday in the 18th place.
“Frustrated? In the end you have to accept it. We couldn’t do anything, racing is like that. These days I will do whatever the team asks of me, whether it’s helping Nani or doing a test in the car.
And to be clear, both Loeb and Elena left it in writing on their social networks: “The objective of winning this rally one day remains.”