The newest rally in the World Rally Raid Championship, the Sonora Rally in Mexico, has concluded with three Prodrive run Hunters across the finish line after a rally including stage victory, stunning vistas, searing heat and some genuine misfortune rolled into one. Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin had bad luck with an off on stage three that cruelly put them out of the world championship lead, while the brand new Hunters of the X Rally Team, in the hands of the Baumgart brothers, had fantastic top three stage finishes and almost a stage win on the last stage. A stunning achievement.
The final run up north on Friday to the USA/Mexico border town of San Luis Del Colorado saw Cristian Baumgart/Beco Andreotti leading his brother Marco with first and second times at 75 kms of the 139 kms stage. The sting in the tail were some sand dunes that led to Cristian getting stuck with Marcos also getting stuck as he helped his brother out. What would’ve been a truly fantastic stage victory slipped away within sight of the finish but on only their first World Rally Raid Championship event, it bodes fantastically well for their push towards taking the cars to the Sertoes Rally at home in Brazil and then on to the Dakar in 2024.
GCK Motorsport's front running Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq, in their Prodrive Hunter, again shot across the sandy tracks but after a problem yesterday had to start low down the order as is the rule in rally raid. However, soon they were scything through clouds of dust kicked up by cars ahead of them to salvage 6th place at the line, an impressive and brave feat in the circumstances.
All three cars that finished today are of the same specification to the Bahrain Raid Xtreme Hunter of Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin that will return to the WRRC stages once Fabian has recovered from a fractured shoulder after the unlucky crash on stage three when the car took a big tumble down into a dry riverbed.
All at Bahrain Raid Xtreme and Prodrive thank you organisers of the Sonora Rally for bringing a new adventure to the world stage. New stages, different terrains, helpful people on event and a million cacti!
“Again we had the speed, in fact, my name is speed! Once more the car was really good out there as I know I have the right speed all the time without taking any risk and without needing to push. However, with this sport if you have a problem on one day you pay the ‘tax’ the day after when you start low down the order in the dust of so many others. We were very fast where we could see but it’s hard to get past others, even with the sentinel, sometimes losing 20 kms to get past a car. Overall the result hurts because we restarted with time penalties but we still have the speed in the Hunter and we’re not finished yet.”
“Almost, hey! Just 25 kms from the finish we saw Marcos & Kleber stuck so we stopped to help them to get them moving so we lost a lot of time. Unbelievably we then got stuck trying to getting them out, but that happens unfortunately. For us we know we can drive fast as we learnt a lot about the car and about navigation, so mission accomplished. The car is great and the treatment we got from the team was something very special so thank you all at BRX and Prodrive; for sure we will be rallying together for some time. Thank you.”
“Very nice again, very good in there. We were really pushing as much as we could but we had a puncture and lost a bit of time but we had a great rally in the bigger scheme of things. First time in the Hunter and we were top three on stages against world champions and rally heroes; that’s very cool and remember what I said on the first day; This car is from another planet.”
Bahrain Raid Xtreme Team Principal
“Another experience for the team and the Hunter in the World Rally Raid Championship but obviously not the result we wanted as our aim was to keep our championship lead with Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin. However we are taking home yet more positives regarding the speed of the car on these stages with GCK Motorsport and the X Rally team at their first ever drive in the car. They led some sections, finish second and third on stages showing what the car can do even with their limited time behind the wheel so we hope to keep that pace up for the rest of the championship and try to win as many events as we can.”
SONORA RALLY , STAGE 4
Christian Baumgart/Beco Andreotti - Prodrive Hunter - 7th +1h 12m 26s
Marco Baumgart/Kleber Cincea - Prodrive Hunter - 9th +1h 25m 16s
Guerlain Chicherit/Alex Winocq - Prodrive Hunter - 11th +18h 28m 45s
Sébastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin - Prodrive Hunter - DNF
- ENDS -
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NOTES TO EDITORS
About Bahrain Raid Xtreme
A joint partnership between the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company (Mumtalakat), the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and Prodrive the British motorsport and engineering group formed the joint venture Prodrive International in 2020. Building on Prodrive’s extensive experience in developing championship winning race and rally cars, its aim is design and manufacture cars to compete in the Dakar Rally and World Rally Raid Championship. BRX achieved the best finishing position, 5 with Nani Roma on debut in 2021, and 2 with Sebastien Loeb in 2021. Its Hunter cars run Prodrive EcoPower, a sustainable fuel made from agricultural waste by BRX team partner Coryton. The fuel reduces CO2 emissions by 80% compared to standard fuel.
Prodrive is one of the world’s largest and most successful motorsport and technology businesses. Over 500 staff are employed across its Banbury headquarters and composites manufacturing facility in Milton Keynes. While the company is perhaps best known for motorsport, today it is just one part of an organisation that in the last decade has diversified to become a technology business working in a range of sectors and providing a range of services. Within the Prodrive Group, there are four distinct but interconnected business areas: Motorsport, operating race and rally programmes for vehicle manufacturers and global brands; Advanced Technology, providing innovative technology for the automotive, aerospace, defence, and marine sectors; Composites, developing lightweight composite components for the automotive, aerospace and marine sectors; and Brand& developing bespoke clothing and accessories for leading brands.
About Guerlain Chicherit
Born on 20 May 1978, Guerlain Chicherit made a name for himself in the 2000s as four-time freeride ski world champion. In 2005 he finished 49th in his first Dakar rally. The following year he climbed 40 places, and was fifth in 2020, his best result so far, including a stage win. In 2009 he won the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, taking the Desert Challenge in Abu Dhabi and the Transibérico along the way. After a six-year hiatus, he came back with his own outfit – GCK Motorsport – and a plan to win the Dakar with a zero-emission hydrogen-powered vehicle by 2027.
About GCK Motorsport
Founded in 2017 by Guerlain Chicherit, GCK Motorsport showed excellent potential from the start with several podium places in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. In 2020 the team joined Green Corp Konnection (GCK), a group of industrial companies promoting innovative technologies for greener mobility. The racing arm of the group is a test bed for the ground-breaking solutions, serving to prove their reliability and high-performance in gruelling real-life conditions. One of the group’s targets is to be the first to win the Dakar with a hydrogen-powered car.