“It’s the only big race of this magnitude that I’m trying to win,” he said before the start. It is still missed for Sébastien Loeb. The hypothetical last-minute miracle did not ultimately take place. With his new co-driver, the Belgian Fabian Lurquin, the 47-year-old Alsatian driver gave everything until the end, but the 5′33′′ times, this Friday, at Nasser Al-Attiyah will not have been enough to come to style the Qatari champion, who therefore signs his 4th success in the event.
The nine-time world rally champion finished second overall again, as in 2017. Difficult to accept when you have already won almost everything, but not for him. Loeb was no more disappointed than that on arrival.
“We had a good rally, but not perfect”
We could have expected a cruel disappointment for the Alsatian, winner of two stages (16 in total on the Dakar) and author of six podiums in this 2022 edition, which was taking place for the 3rd year in the Saudi desert. The champion prefers to put the finish of the 12th stage in Jeddah into perspective: “We had a great fight, it was really nice. We lost a little time at the beginning. Finally, we fought to the end with Fabian. We can’t blame ourselves for much, we had a good rally, but not perfect like Nasser. »
Before the race, the former Citroën and Peugeot driver had clearly displayed his ambitions: “Our absolute objective remains to win and we can really start thinking about it”, he assured after conclusive tests in December, despite preparation very short with his new buddy.
Last March, Sébastien Loeb parted ways with Daniel Elena, his emblematic co-driver, after twenty-three years of fruitful collaboration. The new Franco-Belgian duo very quickly experienced a major setback in its preparation. At the beginning of November, a fire during a refueling station, which had seriously injured a mechanic, had prompted his team to withdraw from the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
And now the Monte Carlo!
In six participations in the dunes, the record of the Alsatian remains mixed. In 2016, it’s learning. The race went pretty well until the 8th stage, when he rolled over. He nevertheless signed 4 victories, for a 9th place overall. The efforts paid off a little better the following year, with a first podium, a fine second place… 5 minutes behind Stéphane Peterhansel. In 2018, Loeb retired during the fifth stage, after the injury of his co-driver Daniel Elena.
In 2019, he climbed on the third step of the podium of the race, won by Nasser Al-Attiyah. He is absent in 2020, then abandons again at the end of the 8th stage last year. “We had a great time, we will do better next time”, warns the driver, who will soon be taking to the snowy roads of the Monte-Carlo Rally, which will start on Thursday 20 January from the Casino Square. Loeb has already won this event seven times. Will he still hit the jackpot? Response Sunday, January 23 around noon.