It was a case of so close, yet so far for Sebastien Loeb as a small technical issue just a few kilometres from the end of the 500 km of Baja Aragon cruelly ended what would have been a dominant first victory for him and the Bahrain Raid Xtreme. Loeb had built up a commanding three minute lead through the 208 km final stage, setting fastest times in the first three sectors in his Prodrive Hunter. The issue made the car difficult to handle for the remainder of the stage, leading to a puncture and a lengthy stop to change the wheel. Loeb finished seventh overall.
Nani Roma brought his Hunter home in fifth place, while, after restarting the final day after retiring on stage one, Orlando Terranova was also straight on the pace on his debut in the Hunter, setting fastest sector times. Over the three stages, the BRX team and the Prodrive Hunter proved their pace, setting eight out of 11 fastest sector times, with Terranova setting two and Loeb six.
Team principal, Gus Beteli, said: “With victory in our grasp, right now it’s hard to be upbeat. But we have to look at the positives: It was our first time on a Baja like this; the Hunter has proven to be the quickest car; and we’ve learnt a huge amount in what is only our second event. We’ll all now take a well deserved break and come back even stronger as we work towards Dakar in 2022.”
Sebastien Loeb said: “It is really hard when you come so close to winning your first cross country Baja. However, I am still very positive. The car was great to drive, we had the pace to win and we will be back even stronger.”
Nani Roma said: “It was a disappointing end for the team to come so close to our maiden victory after all the hard work we have put in. But it is clear for everyone to see that we are progressing and that we are getter faster and that the Hunter has great potential.”
Orlando Terranova said: “I have really enjoyed my first experience of the Hunter and have been impressed by how easy it is to drive fast. It’s also been great working with such a professional team and with two drivers like Seb and Nani, who have the same hunger for competition as I do.”