WRC legend Sebastian Loeb retires early in Safari Rally
9 time WRC rally champion Sebastian Loeb took an early retire today citing engine problems.
For the legendary French driver, this is the second successive early exit to his selective WRC campaign.
Sebastien Loeb who has made a return to the Safari after 20 years fell into despair when his Puma Rally 1 gave in with fire engine damage at the end of Friday morning's fourth stage in Naivasha.
"I finished the stage without any problem. After the stop control, I drove a few metres and stopped for the helmet, and the engine dropped off immediately," said Loeb. "There was burning a little bit behind the engine."
Loeb’s teammates Adrien Fourmaux and Craig Breen also retired, handing M-Sport a major blow in their quest for the coveted Safari title.
Loeb retired on the transport road section after Kedong 1 and will incur a 10-minute penalty per every stage missed on loop two should his M-Sport mechanics manage to fix the damage well in time for Saturday, June 25th.
“It's game over for today. Tomorrow, we are not really sure if we can repair and restart the rally. But we will decide what to do later today after we see what we have broken in the car.”
“I finished the stage but the car stopped just 5kms from the end of the section as we were headed for first service,” explained Loeb.
Ideally, the big blow to M-Sport Ford and Loeb, in particular, means that any title-clinching aspirations have to be put aside.
After a 5th overall position in 2002, Loeb has no realistic chance of catching up with the frontrunners when penalty dynamics play out.
World rally championship series leader Kalle Rovanpera of Finland took advantage to move into the overnight lead going into Saturday's third day.
Defending champion Ogier fell back after leading, dropping into the sixth position with tyre punctures forcing him to stop several times.