As expected, Prodrive came out at the crossroads of the harsh criticism of the Monegasque Daniel Elena, who was enraged by the decision made by the team run by the English David Richards to break his bond with the French Sébastien Loeb after the performance of both in the past Dakar rally.
Loeb and Elena have shared a cabin for two decades and although they have achieved great results in the WRC, certified by 79 victories and nine titles; In the grueling Dakar competition they have been on the podium twice in five starts (2nd in 2017 and 3rd in 2019).
After the experience in Saudi Arabia last January, which ended in abandonment in the eighth stage, Prodrive decided that the best thing was to separate the duo and find a new navigator for Seb. Elena accepted the measure, although she was very critical of the team that runs the destinations of the BRX. This motivated Richards to speak publicly about what happened.
“We consulted Sébastien on the whole issue… Of course a decision of this nature should not be taken lightly, but you have to look at things objectively and, sometimes, make difficult decisions. If you look at the results and what happened, the Dakar is unique. Everything has changed in recent years. It is no longer the event that it was in Africa or South America, it is unique in terms of navigation. It takes a lot of experience and ability "Richards stated to DirtFish.
Regarding Elena's sayings, who questioned Prodrive's ability to build a car for the Dakar, the former navigator was very precise. "We achieved the best result for a newcomer to the Dakar", explained in reference to the fifth place of the Spanish Nani Rome. “He suffered no more than two and a half hours from mechanical problems during the entire event. I suggest they ask Nani and Sébastien what they think of the car, instead of Daniel ”, He added.
Richards insisted that the measure was not taken lightly and that it was the conclusion reached after in-depth analysis. “We had many meetings… We analyzed every detail of our performance and saw how we could move forward. Nothing was ruled out, everything was passed through the microscope. That means every detail of the car, the performance of the driver and co-driver, the performance of each member of the team, which we will also modify… We were fully aware of the long relationship between Sébastien and Daniel, and we would not have suggested it if we did not think that Sebastien would accept the conclusions we had all reached ”.
The head of Prodrive also commented that now they are doomed to find a replacement for Elena. “It is not easy to find someone who has the level of experience required for these types of events. The navigation requirements have changed dramatically and that is the key to all of this. Sebastien is determined to win the Dakar, and we would like to win the World Rally Raid next year, so now is the time, we have time to figure this out ”, culminated.