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HomeClassic Car InvestSebastien Loeb on Sandrider Morocco test: "Everything is going well in the...

Sebastien Loeb on Sandrider Morocco test: “Everything is going well in the car except temperature management”

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The new Dacia Sandrider needs to be able to survive in hot deserts in order to complete the 2025 Dakar Rally. Sébastien Loeb feels it performs well in such conditions, at least provided the air conditioning does not malfunction.

From 28 June to 5 July, the Sandrider conducted its first desert test in Morocco after spending the last two months testing in Europe. As with previous tests, Loeb worked alongside his future Dacia team-mates Nasser Al-Attiyah and Cristina Gutiérrez to take turns in the dunes. The team arrived in Erfoud before Loeb went out for three days of test driving.

Speaking with L’Équipe, Loeb was receptive to the Sandrider’s performance but it was far from an entirely smooth session as the AC broke. With temperatures in Morocco going over forty degrees Celsius (104° F), it made driving a bit of a nightmare.

“Overall, it’s fine, but it’s when the air conditioning stops that it’s shit,” Loeb candidly admitted. “If it’s the same temperature outside during the race and that happens to us, we can’t drive. Everything is going well in the car except temperature management. We’re sweating, so that shows that there are plenty of cooling parameters to work on. It’s good to do these tests and put our finger on them.”

The Dakar Rally takes place in Saudi Arabia, meaning teams often head to desert-rich countries like Morocco to see if their vehicles can handle the hot environment. The Rallye du Maroc, the final round of the World Rally-Raid Championship, is frequently used as a dress rehearsal for Dakar-bound teams.

Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body, twelve-time defending winner of the Dakar’s Stock class, wrapped up their own test in Morocco shortly before Dacia’s arrival. Their Land Cruisers also experienced mechanical issues stemming from the high temperatures, which their lead engineer noted “had never occurred before.” Much like Loeb, TLC was glad to deal with the problems now to begin resolving them instead of when the race happens.

“As soon as we got into the car for the first time, we were immediately happy and quickly understood that it was a great car,” Loeb’s navigator Fabian Lurquin told L’Équipe. “It’s really interesting to start a project from the very beginning, to see the car evolve. Here, of course, we are in extreme heat, so when we look for the limits we find them, but overall there are a lot of positives.”

The Sandrider, revealed in late January, will make it competition début at the Rallye du Maroc on 6–11 October with Loeb, Al-Attiyah, and Gutiérrez before competing for the 2025 W2RC. Al-Attiyah currently leads the championship for Prodrive, who is overseeing the Dacia programme.

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