Loeb and Van Beveren kings of Andalusia two months before the start of the Dakar

Beaten in Morocco, Sébastien Loeb wanted his revenge and therefore the victory around Seville on Sunday October 23. It is done. For 6 seconds, and a sort of draw with Nasser Al Attiyah, the Frenchman and the Qatari have shared the four victories to be taken since the start. “For the title of world champion, you have to admit that it was unplayable even if it was mathematically possible. But with stage 3 canceled and more than half the points to take, we were dead”, explains Loeb. “But it’s really good to win here. It calms us down. We still have a few small issues… (power steering in particular) but we have less and less of them. And on a stage without any problems, we really stand with Nasser “. It’s true: 20 to 30 seconds difference per 100 kilometers in a yours-mine that will never end before the retirement of one or the other…

Both cars are equal. The two crews (Al Attiyah-Baumel and Loeb-Lurquin) too. So we dared to ask a nine-time WRC world champion driver if he considered he had made progress: “I know how to go more slowly when I realize that there is not much to gain over 2 or 3 rotten kilometers. On this I really progressed, says Loeb, on the reading of the ground and the time which one can gain there or not “. Nasser Al Attiyah, Dakar title holder confirms “Séb is clearly the No.1 opponent, without offending the others. He is super fast and he manages his race perfectly now.” The others mentioned by the Qatari are the Audi crews. For now, no one knows exactly how to rate them since they haven’t appeared in any official rankings this year. A priori, Peterhansel, Sainz and Ekstroem will have the most efficient machine on the field and the desire to win rookies. “The Battle Royale” would make a good title for the Dakar 2023.

Sébastien Loeb driving the Bahrain Raid Xtreme during the Andalusia Rally (DPPI / Julien Delfosse)

Adrien Van Beveren was born on a Yamaha. With the brand in tune, he won everything (three Enduros from Le Touquet, two fine fourth places on the Dakar) and lost a lot too (falls and engine failures on the Dakar again). So when Yamaha announced its withdrawal from the discipline just after the 2022 Dakar, “VBA” seriously considered embarking on a second career, on four wheels.

But Honda entered the dance, offering a few laps to Adrien. Conclusive test. Deal signed and driver changed from blue-past to red-future. At 31 years old. All that remained was to grapple with the bitter harshness of the race, its vagaries, the opponents and the terrain. It will happen at the beginning of October, in Morocco, the unavoidable antechamber of the contenders for the Dakar. Van Beveren wins two stages, finishes at the foot of this cursed podium which always refuses him. But at the gates of the Sahara, he has above all made friends with this new machine which he looked at with envy in the stand next door, not so long ago. “It’s a bike that gives you confidence, whatever the terrain,” he told us. “She is flexible and when I make a mistake, she helps me, she takes the hit without overreacting”.

Adrien Van Beveren riding his Monster Energy Honda during the Andalusia Rally (DPPI / Julien Delfosse)

Van Beveren therefore sets off serenely on the Andalusian tracks at the start of the week. A prologue and two stages later, he won his first Rally since winning the Merzouga event four years ago. “I repeat myself, he continues, but confidence is a key factor. You don’t tense up anymore, everything seems more fluid and everything is more fluid. Speed ​​comes naturally.” Finished the foot of the podium, here he is finally at the top, in front of the Benavides brothers, Santolino and Sam Sunderland (the English brother-in-law having chosen to ensure the title of world champion by standing back from the big fight). At the foot of the podium (this time to express his emotion) Adrien let out a small tear, that of relief, light, furtive. Then, smiling again: “I fell ten miles from here, but I wanted to win so much that when I fell, I was already trying to get back on the bike, it was nonsense” he laughed, showing a shredded forearm, like a cyclist.

Source: www.francetvinfo.fr

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