Sébastien Loeb (Peugeot) and his co-driver Daniel Elena during the 4th stage of the Dakar on 9 January 2018
Bet lost. Sébastien Loeb’s ambition to win the Dakar for his third and final participation was shattered in the dunes of Peru, after his retirement on Wednesday at the 5th stage.
It was the last stage of the Dakar-2018 in the tricky desert of Ica before climbing in altitude. But for the nine-time World Rally Champion WRC and his Monegasque co-driver Daniel Elena, it’s already the end, ten days before the finish in Cordoba Argentina.
As they opened the track between San Juan de Marcona and Arequipa (267 km of timed portion), after their victory the day before, their Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi sank twice in the first kilometers. The second time, they had to wait for the assistance of a truck to get by.
„The sand was very soft, we were tanked the first time, we left, and in another area, we arrived on a ridge where another car was blocked, we followed Nasser (Al-Attiyah, the Toyota driver). , who passed, so we went too, but I did not see that behind the ridge there was a hole, and bam, we fell in the hole! „said Loeb.
-‚He was screaming-
If the car was still working, Elena’s condition, which would suffer on the coccyx, forced them to say stop at the end of the first part of the stage, at km 53. „I was driving at slowed down, 30 km / h, and he was screaming in the car, „said the Alsatian.
Sébastien Loeb had never hidden that sand was not his favorite terrain. The five days in the Peruvian desert have therefore been the reason for his ambition, as Thursday, the stages of track that suited him well.
The stop is brutal, because Loeb and Elena remained on a nice success Tuesday around San Juan de Marcona in the same dunes. But by leaving first Wednesday, they did not know how to navigate properly without helping the tracks of vehicles left before them.
The duo also knew a steady progression on the Dakar: 9th in 2016, 2nd last year, the two pilots had to shine during this edition, their last, theirs and Peugeot. They were still 2nd overall at the start.
This abandonment must do the business of Stephane Peterhansel (Peugeot), double title holder and record holder of victories in the competition (13). After Cyril Despres and Nasser Al-Attiyah on Tuesday, it is a third competitor who unleashes the wheel of the driver from Franche-Comté, more than ever ahead of the general. The dunes have not done that unfortunate.