Maximum speed: 163km/h
Maximum temperature: 36,6°C
Type of terrain: big dunes, technically difficult
The Peugeot drivers were relieved to get through the final day of complex dunes on the Silk Way Rally, achieved in consummate style as it was another one-two for the Peugeot DKR. The penultimate leg of the rally was widely acknowledged as perhaps the trickiest of the entire event, but Peterhansel and Despres enjoyed a strong one-two formation finish, both drivers negotiating the route in convoy. Unlike yesterday, there were no untoward occurrences and it was a long yet reasonably straightforward run over 318 competitive kilometres, which means that Peugeot now stands on the threshold of a second consecutive Silk Way Rally victory, following Despres’s success last year. But of course, it’s never over until it’s really over… so tomorrow’s final 100 kilometres will be tackled with caution.
We had a very long and complicated stage today with lots of dunes so we were really relieved to cross the finish line. I feel tired now. I drove the whole stage together with Cyril, so that worked well. My co-driver Jean-Paul did a great job and we didn’t get stuck in the sand, so it’s mostly positive for us. In the end, here we are here, close to the end of the rally. This record of Peugeot stage victories is a kind of consolation for me. I had two goals from when I had the accident and knew I was not in contention for victory anymore: helping my teammates and winning stages, for fun.
Today went well but it was a very long day on the special stage, more than five hours of racing in total, which we were not really expecting. We knew the big dunes would be challenging and it seems that they have been shaking up the overall classification. I think myself and David did a good job, so we are happy! Our pace was good and we made no real mistakes on the dunes, which was the most important thing. I am grateful to Stéphane and Jean Paul, who have again been our guardian angels. I can start thinking about the victory. I am really excited to end the rally in the best way possible.
Xi’an (population 8.55 million), which hosts the rally finish tomorrow, is one of the oldest cities in China and capital of the Shaanxi province. Xi’an was traditionally the starting point of the Silk Way trading route for merchants coming from China, and it’s also home to the terracotta army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 BC. His terracotta soldiers are now housed in a dedicated museum, which is one of Xi’an’s principal tourist attractions.
Tomorrow’s leg is 716.56 kilometres long, but only 100.67 of those kilometres are competitive: the rest is formed of a long road section to the finish podium in Xi’an. The stage itself is short but technical, running through the bottom of a spectacular canyon, with navigation being challenging. While there are no particularly obvious hazards to trip crews up, this is obviously one of the most important stages for drivers and co-drivers to get right.