Silk Way Rally – Leg 9 : An All-Peugeot podium
After the poor/mixed weather encountered in Russia and Kazakhstan, competitors have had nothing but sunshine and searing heat since the event’s arrival in China
Team Peugeot Total’s three Peugeot 2008 DKRs and their respective crews provided further evidence of their speed and endurance capacities today in China where Cyril Despres, Sébastien Loeb and Stéphane Peterhansel monopolised tonight’s podium in Hami!
Today’s leg saw the 2016 Silk Way Rally reach its halfway point with a total of 1, 800km of competitive action now completed and a similar distance yet to come. After the poor/mixed weather encountered in Russia and Kazakhstan, competitors have had nothing but sunshine and searing heat since the event’s arrival in China, and the hardest phase of the fortnight probably still lies ahead of them.
Today’s action (Monday) produced a fourth fastest stage time from eight for Cyril Despres / David Castera. At last week’s start in Moscow, their chief preoccupation had been to get as many kilometres under their belts as possible and gain experience, but that scenario has unfolded very differently! Indeed, they didn’t put a foot wrong on today’s desert test and they have consolidated their position at the top of the leaderboard which they have now led in their Peugeot 2008 DKR for five days on the trot.
Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena had a scare when they got stuck at the top of a dune 27km after the start. They were helped free by the crew of the #100 car. After that, they produced an assertive run to make up for lost time. They were rewarded with the day’s second-best effort which has strengthened their hold on second overall. Their closest threats are now 15 minutes further down the order.
Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret (3rd) rounded out today’s podium despite the time they spent assisting team-mates Loeb and Elena.
Bruno Famin (Team Manager / Director, Peugeot Sport)
“After coming close to claiming a one-two-three finish yesterday, we did it today! A result like this for Peugeot is above all good for our positions on the overall leaderboard. It was a very constructive performance founded on real team spirit!”
Cyril Despres (Leg: 1st / Overall: 1st)
“It’s never easy to decide how to approach a stage when you know you’ve got string of dunes waiting for you straight in. We were under a little pressure but everything turned out well in the end and we were even fastest again! We caught Sébastien when he was stopped on the way up the last dune which meant we were first on the road after that. For the moment, things are going well for us and we’re winning at a rate of one stage in two. It’s an exhilarating feeling but we can’t afford to throw away caution. Our car was perfect today.”
Sébastien Loeb (Leg: 2nd / Overall: 2nd)
“We were a little apprehensive ahead of the dunes because things didn’t necessarily go our way on this type of terrain on the Dakar in January. We saw Yazeed Al Rahji take an impressive dive after a crest just in front of us. My reaction was to brake and we got stuck in the sand. We lost about 10 minutes and Daniel even thought our rally was over. A huge ‘thank you’, therefore, to Jean-Paul for helping us to dig ourselves clear! After that, we pushed very hard in order to make up ground and we ended up with the second-fastest time – so you can tell we weren’t hanging about! It wasn’t easy to keep up that sort of pace, but driving like that was tremendously satisfying. We’ve dropped a little time to Cyril overall but we’ve pulled further clear of the guys behind us. The main thing is to play for the team and hopefully we will be able to finish first and second in Beijing!”
Stéphane Peterhansel (Leg: 3rd / Overall: 17th)
“It’s been some time since we last contested a stage that was entirely over desert terrain. The landscape was superb. After the start, we waited for Cyril and we then helped Sébastien get going again after he got stuck in sand at the top of a dune. Jean-Paul dug like a madman for around 10 minutes. We ended the stage in the dust thrown up by Al Rahji’s car and we were unable to pass him. We’re a long way down the leaderboard, but it’s very satisfying to be able to help our team-mates and play a part in their success.”
Provisional classification – Leg 9 (Urumqi-Hami)
1.Cyril Despres (FRA) / David Castera (FRA), Peugeot 2008 DKR, 3h38min42s
2.Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MC), Peugeot 2008 DKR, +5min19s
3.Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) / Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), Peugeot 2008 DKR, +8min29s
4.Yazeed Al Rahji (SAU) / Timo Gottschalk (DEU), Mini, +11min40s
5.Harry Hunt (GBR) / Andreas Schulz (DEU), Mini, +15min43s
Provisional overall leaderboard after Leg 9
1.Cyril Despres (FRA) / David Castera (FRA), Peugeot 2008 DKR, 19h02min44s
2.Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MC), Peugeot 2008 DKR, +12min17s
3.Yazeed Al Rahji (SAU) / Timo Gottschalk (DEU), Mini, +27min22s
4.Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS), Mini, +40min25s
5.Harry Hunt (GBR) / Andreas Schulz (DEU), Mini, +1h19min45s
17. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) / Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), Peugeot 2008 DKR, +9h23min49s
Silk Way Rally Stage 9: Ürümqi-Hami “The golden dunes” - video
Silk Way Rally – Leg 10 : Another Peugeot 2008 DKR formation-finish