Today’s 194-kilometre stage was similar to a WRC stage: fast and tricky gravel roads that were frequently lined with trees…and huge crowds of enthusiastic spectators. Concentration was the name of the game, as the crews headed to the overnight bivouac at Termas de Rio Hondo. With just two stages to go, Stéphane Peterhansel is closing in on a top 10 finish, after going seventh fastest on today’s relatively short stage and moving up to 11th overall. His team mate Cyril Despres also improved his position after going 24th-fastest on the stage, and is now 35th overall.
Unlike yesterday, when a storm battered the Salta bivouac, the weather was dry and very warm all day. For the seventh time, Stéphane set a top-10 stage time, underlining his consistent performance from start to finish. This will be vital when it comes to future development of the PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, which has pioneered a new technical approach to the Dakar combining turbodiesel power with two-wheel drive.
His team mate Cyril Despres has made up two positions today while adapting his driving technique to suit the demands of a state-of-the-art car, rather than a motorbike. Both drivers enjoyed the sinuous mountain roads that provided plenty of work, as well as entertainment, for all the crews. Tomorrow the teams head south to Rosario, completing the longest day of the entire rally at 1024 kilometres before reaching the short final stage on Saturday.
Stéphane Peterhansel (#302):
The objective now is to get to Buenos Aires, so we’re not going to take every risk just to try and win a stage, especially because the stages from yesterday to the finish do not particularly suit two-wheel drive cars. Before the start, we weren’t sure if we would get to the end of the second day and now we’re here close to the finish, so I’m really pleased. The car has been reliable but I’ve made a few mistakes, which is just part of racing at the Dakar. Most of all, I’m taking a lot of pleasure in working with a fantastic team, and while the result is not very good, there are more positives than negatives. We have learned a lot and for the future I am sure the car will be very competitive.
Cyril Despres: (#322):
It was a really good and beautiful stage; more rally than rally raid I would say. It definitely helped my learning process: most of all the stage was very twisty, which made it a lot of fun to drive. I cannot do much more than I was giving today, but I enjoyed it.
Peugeot Sport Director Bruno Famin:
There were no problems again with the car today, but the nature of the stage meant that it wasn’t especially well suited to our car, so it was an impressive performance from our drivers to stay close to the pace. Now the aim is to bring the cars back to Buenos Aires safely.
SS12 (Termas de Rio Hondo-Rosario): Fri. 16 / 07:19am local time - 1024km (SS 298km)
Results of SS11:
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Qatar Rally Team 1h 53m 10s
2. Orlando Terranova (ARG)/Bernardo Graue (ARG) Mini +00:00:27
3. Giniel de Villiers (RSA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota All Speed +00:00:39
4. Benediktas Vanagas (LT)/Andrei Rudnitski (LT) Toyota +00:00:40
5. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) +00:01:16
7. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/J-P Cottret (FRA) Team Peugeot-Total +00:02:16
24. Cyril Despres (FRA)/Gilles Picard (FRA) Team Peugeot-Total +00:07:09
Overall ranking after SS11:
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Qatar Rally Team 37h 12m 47s
2. Giniel de Villiers (RSA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota All Speed +00:29:01
3. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini +01:28:49
4. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Wouter Roesegar (NLD) Mini +02:54:09
5. Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Pascal Maimon (FRA) Toyota +03:04:21
6. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) +03:13:26
7. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NLD)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Toyota +03:41:40
8. Carlos Sousa (PRT)/Paulo Fiuza (PRT) Mitsubishi +03:44:20
9. Aidyn Rakhimbayev (KAZ)/Anton Nikolaev (RUS) Mini +04:03:09
10. Ronan Chabot (FRA)/Gilles Pillot (FRA) SMG +04:26:29
11. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/J-P Cottret (FRA) Team Peugeot-Total +05:16:21
35. Cyril Despres (FRA)/Gilles Picard (FRA) Team Peugeot-Total +15:23:22