Dakar favorite escapes punishment after special violation

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Sebastian Loeb had a great eighth stage in the Dakar Rally. The Frenchman is still one of the title contenders and managed to narrow his gap to leader Nasser Al-Attiyah to just over half an hour. Still, it looked as if Loeb was getting another punishment on his pants.

The Frenchman lost a spare tire during Monday’s stage and that is something that is not allowed under Dakar rules. The World Championship rules state that ‘each wheel must be placed in the next zone’ and under no circumstances must ‘wheels/tyres be left behind’.

Compatriot Antoine Delaporte was given a five-minute penalty earlier this Dakar for leaving a wheel behind, but the stewards have not chosen to hand out the same penalty to Loeb. The Red Bull-sponsored driver was instead fined €10,000.

Wheel fell out of the car

Not only did Loeb lose a wheel, teammate Orlando Terranova in a sister car also crossed the finish line with one wheel short. According to the FIA, however, the two drivers did not leave the wheels behind on purpose and footage would clearly show that it was an accident.

“It appears that it was not the crew’s fault, but that the vehicles had too weak fastening straps,” the statement said. “The stewards note that the drivers had no influence on the loss of the spare tires and therefore no further action will be taken against the drivers.”

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