Today’s programme took the form of an interesting loop around the city of Alxa Youqi in Inner Mongolia. The menu comprised a 221km run-out to a 202km stage followed by another 77km road section back to Alxa Youqi. The varied terrain ranged from a short section of dunes to much faster tracks. Once again, the two PEUGEOT 2008 DKRs were in their element as they went on to collect another one-two finish.
This is our fourth straight stage win! We pushed quite hard and we are really pleased with the latest changes that have been made to the Peugeot 2008 DKR on all the different types of terrain, especially over the dunes. This rally is great fun and it’s not often you get a chance to enjoy yourself from the start to the finish of a stage. There was a good rhythm to today’s run with a nice variety of challenges.
These stages are tremendous fun. Today’s last 30 kilometres took us through sand dunes with views over a number of lakes. I didn’t have time to do much sightseeing, though! To begin with, I tried to focus on the road ahead to avoid picking up any punctures. When you’re faced with 170km of twisty, sandy tracks where stones are omnipresent, I prefer to be on my guard, even though they didn’t seem to be too nasty! We didn’t have to do a single U-turn today.
We hesitated at one junction today. It must have cost us around 15 seconds. I have to say that the road books are globally very good. Given the profile of the stages, the navigation could be quite complex but we’ve had nothing to complain about whatsoever. The scenery was terrific, with some nice dunes which allowed us to extend our lead a little bit.
I’m still learning, but I’m also still a little stressed at the idea that I could make Cyril lose time. Bit by bit, I’m finding my marks, though. We’re starting to work well as a crew and we are increasingly familiar with the car. Only actually competing can bring that and it’s getting better every day.
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Peugeot 2008 DKR in 2hr 29min 49sec
2. Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) Peugeot 2008 DKR +3’06
3. Han Wei (CHN)/Pan Hong Yu (CHN) Haval +4’43
4. Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Garcin (FRA) Haval +6’13
5. Lui Kun (CHN)/Liao (CHN) Mitsubishi Pajero MPR11 +6’48
Overall classification after SS6 (Provisional)
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Peugeot 2008 DKR
2. Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) Peugeot 2008 DKR +19’11
3. Han Wei (CHN)/Pan Hong Yu (CHN) Haval +27’37
4. Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Garcin (FRA) Haval +37’40