Loeb relieved to be close to Dakar lead after engine woes

Sebastien Loeb says he is happy to remain well within the fight for the 2017 Dakar Rally lead, despite losing time to an engine issue on Thursday.

Loeb relieved to be close to Dakar lead after engine woes
#309 Peugeot Sport Peugeot 3008 DKR: Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena
Sébastien Loeb, Peugeot Sport
#309 Peugeot Sport Peugeot 3008 DKR: Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena
Sébastien Loeb, Peugeot Sport
#300 Peugeot Sport Peugeot 3008 DKR: Stéphane Peterhansel, Jean-Paul Cottret
#300 Peugeot Sport Peugeot 3008 DKR: Stéphane Peterhansel, Jean-Paul Cottret
Stéphane Peterhansel, Peugeot Sport
#300 Peugeot Sport Peugeot 3008 DKR: Stéphane Peterhansel, Jean-Paul Cottret

Loeb's Peugeot 3008DKR developed a problem early on in the Jujuy – Tupiza stage, which led to him stopping twice and losing more than 20 minutes.

“I think we did a very good stage, the only problem is that we had an engine problem in the beginning of the stage, we lost nearly half an hour,” Loeb said.

“The valve that makes the turbo open or close, and we lost completely the power. We had 20 horsepower, 5 kilometre per hour. Then we did some reset and it was working again - 200m, 500m, 1km and then it stopped again.

“We opened the rear, we checked, we called the engineer with the satellite phone - and, yeah, we put some oil on the mechanism that opens the turbo.”

The Frenchman, who had entered the stage with a narrow lead over Carlos Sainz, enjoyed a straightforward run after fixing the issue – and currently sits just seven minutes off new leader Cyril Despres, after Sainz rolled close to stage finish and retired from the rally.

Loeb said: “Finally, we pushed really hard until the end. We lost a lot of time in the stage for sure, but still we are not so far in the general classification.

“We have to stay optimistic - that was not the case in the car where we were driving, because I expected to be half an hour behind now... and it's not the case, so I'm happy.”

Asked whether he would drive more carefully and take fewer risks given the high levels of attrition in the car category, Loeb said: “I think I will continue to push. It's the way I feel the best – so I'll continue like that.”

Navigation woes for Peterhansel

While Loeb had very little in the way of navigation trouble on Thursday – saying himself and co-driver Daniel Elena only got lost very briefly – that was not the case for teammate Stephane Peterhansel.

“It was not that difficult from the driving side,” Peterhansel explained. “However, we made a mistake. We got lost and had to check on the maps and find our road.

“We got lost in a small river near the end, broke a wheel, and lost something like 20 minutes. We lost big there."

Despite his eventful run, the reigning Dakar champion now sits second, four minutes behind Despres and right ahead of Mikko Hirvonen and Loeb.

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