A Morocco Rally, Two Dakar And Two Silk Way Rally, The Last Of Which Abandoned On Monday

A Morocco rally, two Dakar and two Silk Way Rally, the last of which abandoned on Monday the Alsatian Sebastien Loeb has still not won in five rally-raid attempts. What is he still missing to make this specialty his new garden?

A Morocco Rally, Two Dakar And Two Silk Way Rally, The Last Of Which Abandoned On Monday

After five attempts, the nine-time WRC world champion Sebastien Loeb has not yet won in rally-raid and his retirement on Monday in the Silk Way Rally ex-Silk Road, when he was mostly in the lead, poses a question: is there a lack of luck, experience, or even. Skill on this type of terrain?

He pleaded terrible luck for him: It is a hole that I had not seen, he admitted after leaving after the 9th stage.

If the time spent repairing his damaged Peugeot made him lose all hope of winning the race when he was more than an hour ahead, it is a pain due to a severe sprain on a finger which forced to throw in the towel: I have a very sore thumb, I can no longer hold the wheel, and I do not feel very well. I will not be able to continue the race under these conditions. 

A Morocco rally, two Dakar and two Silk Way Rally, the 2017 edition of which links Moscow to the ex-imperial city of Xi’an northern China until July 22. and as many setbacks. However, the big names in rally-raid see only a question of time and learning before the Alsatian finally wins.

He lacks a little experience.

I don’t think he’s missing much. Today, he is at the level, said Hubert Auriol, former winner 1981, 1982, 1992 than the former director of the Dakar 1995-2004.

But he lacks a bit of experience, kilometers on the track. Because in rally-raid, you have to adapt constantly. It is a race where you discover the course the same day; you cannot do a survey, unlike the WRC, where the notes taken during the study and recited by the co-driver on a train of hell during the specials, give marks. Ultra-domineering on the WRC roads, Sebastien Loeb has won a title every year between 2004 and 2012. The Haguenau driver has launched since 2015 in the rally-raid challenge within the Peugeot team, with his co-driver from always, Daniel Elena.

He still has a sacred fire.

He still has a sacred fire. Now he just needs to learn to manage when he has a big head start. He will continue to learn at the racing pace level, predicts Luc Alphand, winner of the 2006 Dakar in car and sports director of the Silk Way Rally.

But the ex-ski champion also underlines the progress of the French pilot since his retraining, within particular an encouraging second place on the 2017 Dakar where a puncture wasted his time. He has a good knowledge of sand now. And in terms of navigation, Daniel Elena has made significant progress, notes Alphand.

The Monegasque co-driver, who has associated with Loeb for 20 years, is the most successful in the WRC. But he too has relatively little experience in rally-raid, where the co-pilot turns into a navigator, facing other more experienced duos such as Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Pierre Cottret Peugeot, winners together seven times on the Dakar.

Learn to deal with failure.

Some see Elena as the weak link in Loeb's adventure in the raid. Daniel Elena's technique is exceptional in the WRC. But rally-raid is very specific: you have to know how to assess the terrain in the desert accurately, the dangerousness of the track  And there, his technique still leaves something to be desired, says Liu Yuke, a rally-raid expert in China and responsible for the Chinese platform specializing in motorsport FB Life.

Technique, experience, bad luck. A new factor now added to Loeb's challenge: failure management.

Unfortunately, his confidence capital will take a hit, predicts Stephane Peterhansel, his Peugeot teammate, and 13-time Dakar winner. Any way to put pressure on an opponent, they feel closer and closer to the goal?

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