Prodrive technical director David Lapworth has given his team an eight out of 10 for its performance over the first half of its debut Dakar Rally appearance.
Lapworth talked to DirtFish during the Saudi Arabian event’s Ha’il rest day and before the wheel bearing issue which cost Sébastien Loeb’s BRX Hunter time through Sunday’s Ha’il to Sakaka test.
While Loeb’s problem dropped him to 42nd, Nani Roma’s sister car sits in fifth place after the seventh stage.
“I think we’ve been reassured that the car’s basic performance is there and the basic strength and durability is there,” said Lapworth.
“We’re pretty happy. The car’s working. It’s strong and durable and we’re learning the kind of things we expected to learn. It’s what [former US secretary of defense] Donald Rumsfeld once said about the unknowns; it’s the unknowns we know not the unknowns we don’t know that are proving difficult.
“I wouldn’t say the event has been any more difficult than we thought it would be technically.
“If I ranked our performance, I’d give us an eight [out of 10].”
Asked what he thought could be possible for Roma and Loeb through the event’s second half, Lapworth replied:
“The target hasn’t really changed from the first half of the event. That target is still to get both cars to finish. But we came here hoping for a performance, not just to get to the end.
“Realistically, if we get a car on the podium we’ve done well and if we can get both drivers to the finish then we’re going to take away a lot of experience from this event and these conditions and that’s also a good target.
“We’ll just keep our heads down and keep going. We haven’t set out to set fastest stage times or to challenge for the lead, this is a learning year for us with the car. We always felt if we got a good result it would be because things would happen around us.”