Returning to action after yesterday’s rest day in Almaty, the #104 and #102 PEUGEOT 2008 DKRs immediately settled into a commanding rhythm this morning to claim Team Peugeot Total’s first one-two stage time of the Silk Way Rally.
- Today witnessed the final stage in Kazakhstan, with 77 competitive kilometres amidst the snow-capped mountains at altitudes of between 2,000-2,600m (the latter being the highest point of the rally). Competitors subsequently crossed the border on the liaison route on their way to the first Chinese bivouac in the province of Xinjiang.
- Cyril DESPRES / David CASTERA cinched their third stage victory of the event, enabling the #104 PEUGEOT 2008 DKR crew to extend their lead in the overall standings to more than ten minutes.
- Sébastien LOEB / Daniel ELENA overcame the disadvantage of running first on the road to produce an impressively consistent run that yielded the second-fastest stage time. The French pairing holds the same position in the overall classification.
- After an engine warning light appeared on the liaison route to the stage, Stéphane PETERHANSEL / Jean-Paul COTTRET took the precaution of selecting a lower performance mode for the competitive action but nonetheless posted the ninth-quickest time.
TYPE OF TERRAIN : 100% mountain tracks: 80% dirt and mud, 20% gravel with large rocks
CONDITIONS : Little navigation, narrow roads and technical sections.
WEATHER : Sunny; no cloud cover; temperatures between 14°C and 32°C; wind speed 7kph
ALTITUDE : 2,000 – 2,600m, requiring several technical adjustments
Bruno FAMIN, Team Peugeot Total Team Manager – Peugeot Sport Director
Straight off the back of the rest day, Cyril DESPRES’ third stage victory and particularly the one-two achieved by our PEUGEOT 2008 DKRs not only on this leg but also in the overall standings are real sources of satisfaction. Nonetheless, tomorrow’s long leg and the run through the Gobi Desert will set the tone for the second part of this rally, which we knew from the start would be an altogether more demanding and complicated proposition than what we have experienced so far.
Cyril DESPRES (Leg: 1st/Overall: 1st)
This stage was a bit like driving in the Pyrenees, which is close to home for me! It was a shame that it was only 77km long, because it was fun. There were lots of puddles and large patches of mud, so we got through the six litres of windscreen washer fluid that we had in just one hour! David and I have settled into a good rhythm, I’m feeling comfortable and the team is doing an excellent job with the car. I can’t wait to get into the desert now!
Sébastien LOEB (Leg: 2nd/Overall: 2nd)
That wasn’t an easy stage; I was expecting mountain roads, but it turned out to be a very narrow and slippery plateau, with large stones making it quite hazardous. It was only a short run today, but it went well for us. We also got lost a little – for a change! With nobody ahead of us on the road, there were no tyre tracks to follow and scant visibility. It was tough, but we set a good time and I really enjoyed driving the Peugeot – it has quick reactions and I get a positive feeling from it.
Stéphane PETERHANSEL (Leg: 9th/Overall: 63th)
It was all-too easy to make a mistake today with ravines and small furrows ready to catch out the unwary, so we really had to remain fully focused and alert throughout. The stage was short but enjoyable, and the landscape in China is surprisingly green. For a while, you could almost have mistaken it for the Alps, with similar mountains, pastures and grazing cows. The beauty of this countryside really is quite surreal...
Leg 7 Provisional Classification (Almaty – Bortala)
1. Cyril Despres (FRA) / David Castera (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, 1h02m44s
2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MC), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +2m46s
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS), Mini, +4m10s
4. Harry Hunt (GBR) / Andreas Schulz (DEU), Mini, +4m59s
5. Ma Miao (CHN) Min Liao (CHN), Eastern Racing Team, +5m42s
9. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) / Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +7m15s
Provisional Overall Classification after Leg 7
1. Cyril Despres (FRA) / David Castera (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, 12h09m19s
2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MC), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +10m46s
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS), Mini, +14m00s
4. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU) / Timo Gottschalk (DEU), Mini, +20m01s
5. Aidyn Rakhimbayev (KAZ) / Anton Nikolaev (RUS), Mini, +21m22s
63. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) / Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +9h18m44s
See all of the Silk Way Rally official classifications by clicking HERE
NEXT: LEG 8
Tomorrow is the longest day of the rally, with a total distance of 905.35km to be covered between Bortala and Urumqi, including an initial liaison stretch of 513.64km followed by 256.93km against the clock through a desert environment.
SPOT THE PEUGEOT 2008 DKR
The three PEUGEOTs can be distinguished by the colour of their PEUGEOT windscreen strip and competition numbers: yellow for Stéphane PETERHANSEL/Jean-Paul COTTRET (N°100), white for Sébastien LOEB / Daniel ELENA (N°102) and red for Cyril DESPRES / David CASTERA (N°104).
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