Today’s 272km test between Eji Naqi and Alxa Youqi was the longest of the rally. In total, the leg was 675km in length. The two PEUGEOT 2008 DKRs claimed the top two places again, with Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret topping the timesheet once more, ahead of Cyril Despres/David Castera (+5m23s). The result of SS5 has taken the two crews further clear in the provisional overall classification.
Although it was 270km in length, today’s stage wasn’t very hard for us or for the cars. It was quite smooth but also very varied, with some fast sections over sand dunes, some smaller dunes, some mountain tracks and some technically-challenging portions. We drove quite fast and the tracks of the bikers were clearly visible because of the rain, so that made navigating easier at a point where we were a little unsure. It rained for about 80 percent of the stage and it was almost cold! We had to make a short stop to pull a dead bird from our windscreen wiper. That was our only real incident. We’ve extended our lead but it hasn’t just been a cruise over the 641 competitive kilometres we have covered since the start.
It’s not often you see rain in a desert! We moved up the road order but we had to be patient for a while to find a way past one particular vehicle through a fast, dusty portion. Once we were second on the road, we followed Stéphane’s tracks and that helped us to evaluate things like braking distances, etc. It was a great stage to continue our apprenticeship because there was a decent pace and the terrain was varied. We were even escorted by some camels at one point.
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Peugeot 2008 DKR 2hr 49min 42sec
2. Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) Peugeot 2008 DKR 2hr 55min 05sec
3. Han Wei (CHN)/Pan Hong Yu (CHN) Haval 3hr 01min 36sec
4. Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Garcin (FRA) Haval 3hr 02min 38sec
5. Wei Hong Jin (CHN)/Guo Jun (CHN) Xiongfeng Buggy 3hr 02min 42sec
6. Lui Kun (CHN)/Liao (CHN) Mitsubishi Pajero MPR11 3hr 05min 02sec
7. Liu Yan Gui (CHN)/Sha He (CHN) Mitsubishi Panda L200 3hr 20min 24sec
Overall standings after SS5 (TBC)
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Peugeot 2008 DKR 7hr 21min 15sec
2. Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) Peugeot 2008 DKR 7hr 37min 10sec
3. Han Wei (CHN)/Pan Hong Yu (CHN) Haval 7hr 44min 09sec
4. Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Garcin (FRA) Haval 7hr 52min 42sec
5. Liu Yan Gui (CHN)/Sha He (CHN) Mitsubishi L200 8hr 15min 01sec
6. Lui Kun (CHN)/Liao (CHN) Mitsubishi Pajero MPR11 8hr 23min 11sec