The first days of the arduous Silk Way Rally running from Russia to China via Kazakhstan have seen powerful performances from the biggest names in the race. Team Peugeot-Total have already picked up all stage wins on offer in the car race while Team Kamaz Master have also surged into an early lead in the truck category.
It has been a game of cat and mouse at the front of the car race with Peugeot team-mates Stéphane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres (pictured above) taking it in turns to win the stages so far. Stéphane set the fastest time on the prologue as well as during yesterday’s 568 kilometres of timed racing between Kostanay and Astana. Cyril meanwhile celebrated a stage win on Monday as the Silk Way left Russia and entered Kazakhstan. The fact that both drivers have suffered punctures while opening the road the day after stage wins underlines the severe navigational challenges that exist at this race.
It’s been a steadier ride for Sébastien Loeb, who drives the third Peugeot 2008 DKR at the Silk Way. The nine-time WRC winner sits third overall after three days of measured attacks and lies 2min51s behind Stéphane who has claimed the outright lead of the race. Cyril is a further minute behind Sébastien in fourth overall following this impressive start to proceedings by Team Peugeot-Total.
Sébastien Loeb: “You could hardly see the track through the tall grass, so the navigation was quite hard. We got away to a good start and soon caught Cyril (Despres) and (Yazeed) Al-Rahji. The three of us then got lost together several times. After that, we drove in a convoy at the same pace as the car at the front of the field. We ended up with the third-best time without any major drama.”
Cyril Despres: “It was raining when we started the stage and the first 50 kilometres were over untouched fields with nothing to indicate the correct route. The going was also very muddy. Our pace wasn’t very fast and first (Yazeed) Al-Rahji, then Sébastien (Loeb) caught us. We ran together after that. We were playing at cat and mouse games when we hit a lump of concrete hidden in the long grass. We punctured but we decided to continue until the end of the stage without changing the wheel. It could have been worse…”
Source: Red Bull Content Pool