June 14, 2024 New York

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This Week In Motors - ThisWeekInMotors > Blog > OFF-ROAD > LOEB LOSES OUT AS SAINZ CHASES DAKAR GLORY FOR AUDI

LOEB LOSES OUT AS SAINZ CHASES DAKAR GLORY FOR AUDI

Another chapter in the Sainz-Loeb rivalry has captivated the rally world this week, with Thursday proving pivotal in their ongoing battle.

Carlos Sainz finds himself on the cusp of a fairytale farewell victory for his Audi team at the Dakar. After covering 3,000 miles over nearly two weeks of competition, he now faces just one more day of racing—a 108-mile circuit around the Red Sea port of Yanbu. This victory carries added significance as it marks Audi’s final appearance at the Dakar before the end of its off-road program.

Meanwhile, Sébastien Loeb’s hopes were dashed yet again, as a heavy landing damaged the front-right suspension of his BRX Hunter during Thursday’s stage. Despite the setback, Loeb received assistance from fellow Hunter driver Yungang Zi, who provided a spare part to facilitate repairs.

Approaching the penultimate stage, Loeb trailed the leading RS Q e-tron by 13 minutes. However, an incident 86 miles into the day’s 260-mile section forced him to halt his Prodrive-prepared machine. Sainz, encountering Loeb on the road, moderated his pace, consolidating his lead.

Reflecting on the challenging day, Sainz acknowledged the importance of maintaining focus until the finish line, recalling past experiences where victory slipped away at the eleventh hour.

For Loeb, the setback meant navigating through five punctures, further complicating his pursuit of victory. Despite the adversity, he remains determined to push forward, recognizing the narrow margins between second and fourth place.

As the Dakar draws to a close, both drivers are acutely aware that the rally’s outcome hinges on the final stage. Sainz remains cautious, ensuring a thorough inspection of his car before the ultimate challenge, while Loeb prepares to fight till the end.

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