Loeb explains battery problem that caused WRC Safari Rally exit

Sebastien Loeb says a depleted battery following a small engine fire ultimately ended his Safari Rally Kenya victory bid just five kilometres from reaching the World Rally Championship service park.

Loeb explains battery problem that caused WRC Safari Rally exit

The nine-time world champion had rejoined M-Sport for the famous WRC event, 20 years on from his Safari Rally debut in 2002, to make his third start of the 2022 WRC campaign.

After ending Thursday’s opening stage in fifth, Loeb started Friday by winning Stage 2 and went on to complete the morning loop of challenging gravel stages in fifth overall, 15.9s adrift of rally leader Elfyn Evans.

However, once the 48-year-old completed Stage 4 the engine on his hybrid Rally1 Ford Puma cut out, before a small fire broke out in the engine bay that co-driver Isabelle Galmiche promptly extinguished.

With the engine out of action, Loeb engaged electric power to navigate the road section back to the service park, but ran out of battery power and was forced to pull over five kilometres shy of service.

Read Also:

Loeb said there was no warning of the engine issue before it struck.

“We were going normally, we went to the stop control and the engine stopped,” Loeb told Autosport.

“We tried to restart and it didn’t restart, and there was smoke coming out of the bonnet. I opened it and there was a little fire.

“We then used electric mode and we did 10kms. We had no battery any more and the car stopped 5km from service.”

Sebastien Loeb, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Sebastien Loeb, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Loeb remarked that he was “happy” with the start to his event and was “in the rhythm of the other drivers”.

“The pace was good and I tried to take it easy, I understood it was going to be a tough rally,” he added.

“[Our rally] has been too short. It has been a lot of work for not a lot of driving, so it is frustrating.”

It is unclear if Loeb will rejoin the rally on Saturday under restart rules.

Loeb’s exit was one of two retirements for M-Sport on Friday, as Adrien Fourmaux was forced out of the rally due to a mechanical issue on Stage 5. The Frenchman had been sitting seventh after solid start.

As a result, Craig Breen is leading M-Sport’s charge in sixth after team-mate Gus Greensmith ran as high as fourth, before a right rear puncture dropped the Briton more than 13 minutes adrift.

shares
comments

Related video

WRC Safari Rally: Evans grabs lead, Loeb retires with engine fire
Previous article

WRC Safari Rally: Evans grabs lead, Loeb retires with engine fire

Next article

WRC Safari Rally: Rovanpera leads, punctures delay Ogier and Evans

WRC Safari Rally: Rovanpera leads, punctures delay Ogier and Evans
How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession Plus

How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession

Finland may have a small population, but it has long enjoyed rallying success. Now that the nation has a new star to cheer in the form of Kalle Rovanpera, interest in the discipline is surging once again

WRC
Aug 10, 2022
How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming Plus

How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming

Kalle Rovanpera and Toyota went into Rally Finland as overwhelming favourites but came away as runners-up to a resurgent Ott Tanak and Hyundai. While it may have dampened the homecoming party, it still moved the Finn closer to the ultimate World Rally Championship prize

WRC
Aug 8, 2022
Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home Plus

Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home

Hyundai is one of the World Rally Championship's big three, and has a brand-new travelling facility befitting of that status. The team invited Autosport for a behind-the-scenes look at its state-of-the-art HQ, which comes complete with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a top Formula 1 outfit

WRC
Jul 27, 2022
How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped Plus

How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped

After trailing Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans for much of Rally Estonia's opening day, WRC points leader Kalle Rovanpera took advantage of a change in the weather and never looked back afterwards. Winning for a fifth time this year at the scene of his 2021 breakthrough, and with a breathtaking powerstage bonus for good measure, his advantage is already looking difficult to topple

WRC
Jul 18, 2022
How the WRC captures its stunning visuals Plus

How the WRC captures its stunning visuals

Whether it’s the mountains of Monte Carlo, the snow of Sweden or the Kenya Savannah, the World Rally Championship is able to beam some of motorsport’s most spectacular footage to television screens while operating in the harshest of environments. Autosport went behind the scenes to unearth the secrets that make this logistical challenge possible

WRC
Jul 7, 2022
Why WRC's Safari tour is more than just a rally Plus

Why WRC's Safari tour is more than just a rally

OPINION: A source of national pride in Kenya, the Safari Rally is also a sporting, cultural and economic phenomenon. And as last weekend's World Rally Championship round reminded us, it's a key driver in establishing Africa’s place in world motorsport

WRC
Jun 29, 2022
How Rovanpera tamed a wild Safari Rally Plus

How Rovanpera tamed a wild Safari Rally

The Safari Rally acted as a brutal test of driver and car resolve as multiple retirements opened the path for a historic Toyota 1-2-3-4 triumph, headed by star Kalle Rovanpera. But keeping things clean was only half of the challenge, as a well-timed charge when conditions worsened allowed the Finn to take control

WRC
Jun 27, 2022
How Tanak turned the tables to deliver Hyundai a timely WRC triumph Plus

How Tanak turned the tables to deliver Hyundai a timely WRC triumph

The 2019 champion has been a bit-part player recently, but Ott Tanak ended a 15-month drought in fine style with a dominant win in Sardinia. On a weekend when championship leader Kalle Rovanpera struggled with cleaning the road, his Hyundai rival has made his belated arrival into the title race and given cause for those predicting a walkover from the Toyota star to pause

WRC
Jun 6, 2022