After claiming Saturday’s top two times, Team Peugeot Total was back at the sharp end today as the #102, #100 and #104 PEUGEOT 2008 DKRs collected the second, third and fourth-best efforts respectively on Stage 8.
- Today’s leg was the longest of the rally, with a 905.35km run from Bortala to Xinjiang province’s capital Urumqi, including a punishing 257km competitive section which featured some very rough portions, as well some complex off-road driving in searing heat.
- Cyril DESPRES / David CASTERA took no risks in a bid to defend their overall lead and spare their PEUGEOT 2008 DKR which came fourth today.
- Sébastien LOEB / Daniel ELENA put in a great performance and came within just 31 seconds of winning the 256.93km test which took 3 hours 10 minutes to complete. Second place was enough to keep them in second spot overall and shave the gap to the provisional leaders down to less than seven minutes.
- The speed of Stéphane PETERHANSEL / Jean-Paul COTTRET allowed them to catch the day’s front-runners very quickly. Their reward was a footing on Sunday’s podium (3rd place).
TYPE OF TERRAIN: 90% tracks (sand 60% / dirt 30%), 10% off-road: sand and dirt hard-packed desert terrain
WEATHER : Sunny; little cloud cover; temperature between 26°C and 35°C; no wind; humidity: 22%
CONDITIONS : Off-road navigation by compass bearing, plus rough, twisty tracks
AVERAGE SPEED : 80kph
Bruno FAMIN (Team Manager, Team Peugeot Total / Director, Peugeot Sport)
It was a good day for Sébastien and Daniel who soon found themselves running first on the road but they didn’t put a foot wrong, so that’s a big positive on such a challenging stage. Cyril reported a damping issue which explains the gap to his team-mates today. Stéphane could have posted the best time but he preferred play it cautiously when he found himself in the dust Al Rahji towards the end. Overall, it was a pretty good day for Peugeot. All three PEUGEOT 2008 DKRs reached the finish in close formation and they will start Monday’s stage in the same order as their positions today. That means Al-Rajhi will be first to start tomorrow’s test which could be something of a handful.
Cyril DESPRES (Leg:4th / Overall: 1st)
It was a long day. The stage was very twisty and quite badly cut up through the corners in many places. It could have been very easy to make a mistake. We found it impossible to stay close to Sébastien because we were unsighted in his dust, although we managed to shorten the gap a bit on the off-road sections. Cross-country rallying is all about endurance and there is still a very long way to go, and we don’t expect what’s still to come to be easy. My direct rivals aren’t novices and they all have around 15 years’ more experience than me. It will be important to keep a cool head.
Sébastien LOEB (Leg: 2nd / Overall: 2nd)
We are both pleased with our day despite the fatigue and heat. It was an interesting stage to drive and we overtook Cyril about 30km after the start. We always knew this one would be complex for the guy running at the front of the field but there comes a moment where you need to be prepared to take risks. We just tried to find the right path, drive how we felt comfortable and keep clocking up more experience. Al Rahji was able to benefit from our wheel tacks to catch us. Tomorrow will be another day, so it will be important to get in some decent rest.
Stéphane PETERHANSEL (Leg: 3rd / Overall: 37th)
When you start the day with a 500km road section, you know it’s not going to be an easy run! The navigation was quite hard and we came across the first sections of soft sand, plus some fairly tricky portions where it can be so easy to make a mistake. It was complex, but still a good day overall for Team Peugeot Total. Personally, I didn’t drive flat out and I didn’t attempt to win the stage, even though I ran close to Al Rahji for the last 30 or so kilometres. I preferred to play it as a team.
Provisional classification Leg 8 (Bortala - Urumqi)
1.Yazeed Al Rahji (SAU) / Timo Gottschalk (DEU), Mini, +3h10’24’’
2.Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MC), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +0min31s
3.Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) / Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +0min55s
4.Cyril Despres (FRA) / David Castera (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +4min19s
5.Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS), Mini, +5min09s
Provisional leaderboard after Leg 8
1.Cyril Despres (FRA) / David Castera (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, 15h24min02s
2.Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MC), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +6min58s
3.Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS), Mini, +14min50s
4.Yazeed Al Rahji (SAU) / Timo Gottschalk (DEU), Mini, +15min42s
5.Aidyn Rakhimbayev (KAZ) / Anton Nikolaev (RUS), Mini, +37min31s
37. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) / Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +9h15min20s
NEXT: LEG 9 (MONDAY)
Monday’s competitive section (384.40km) will provide competitors with their first taste of Sahara-style dunes, plus some tracks and a lot of off-road driving, chiefly on sand and through canyons. The route will call for extreme vigilance over the steep dunes, many of which feature steep drop-offs.
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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