In 2016, the greatest driver in rally history employed a modest approach that matched his discreet and reserved personality to take on the challenge that is the Dakar. But once behind the wheel of the Peugeot 2008 DKR, his immense talent spoke volumes.
Very soon the question arose as to whether he would win in his first participation, as Ari Vatanen had done in 1987. But the French star made some mistakes, then in the following years, he experienced some disastrous navigation errors, the injury of his co-driver and mechanical breakdowns that shattered his plans for victory… in short, an array of setbacks that can unsettle title contenders on the Dakar.
Nevertheless, after Peugeot called it a day the nine-time world champion kept at it. In 2019 and without the factory team behind him, but at the wheel of a 3008, prepared and entered by PH Sport, Loeb took his number of Dakar stage wins to 14 on his way to his second podium finish with an impressive 3rd place result in the toughest motor race in the world. After skipping the first edition in Saudi Arabia, he has joined forces with the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team, which is relying on the many-time WRC title-winning ProDrive structure. Still partnered with long-time co-driver Daniel Elena, “Seb” is also teaming with Nani Roma, who will be in the squad’s sister car. The eventual teething pains of the car will most likely pose the biggest threat to the two crews in their quest to battle at the sharp end of the order.
In special press Dakar 2021 conference S. Loeb said that he wishes that new “Prodrive” car will be competitive in Dakar: “This rally is incredible experience and kind of adventure. After Dakar you always have good feelings, but in the end when you remember it, you always have good memories.
It’s a little bit different because a lot of things will be different. For example, a new notebook system.
Our car is difficult to compare to the buggy. This project is interesting. After the test I saw that the car is very good and its good to drive it. It doesn’t have problems, so we are happy. But Dakar is very long, so we will see.
Two years ago when I did the last my Dakar, I felt in the car very well, I wish it will be the same this year. In every Dakar I was fought in TOP 5, I wish to do the same again.
I hope this car will be competitive. The goal is to fight with TOP drivers.”