With 568km against the clock, 250km of liaison distance and a staggering 600 pace notes across 116 pages in the co-drivers’ road books, Leg 5 of the Silk Way Rally was a punishing day indeed. Notwithstanding a lengthy delay for the #100 car, Team Peugeot Total remains in charge at the front of the field, with its other two crews occupying the top two places in the overall standings.
Growing daily in confidence and experience – both in terms of driving as well as navigational skills and road book reading – Cyril Despres and David Castera produced a flawless run to post the fastest time of the day. In so doing, they took a commanding stage victory to reclaim the top spot in the overall classification.
Their team-mates Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are in hot pursuit of the new rally leaders, after setting the fifth-fastest time today. Like many of their competitors, the French duo encountered a number of navigational issues.
At 416km into the stage, there were two consecutive hazards – a level two followed by a maximum alert level three – that sent the PEUGEOT 2008 DKR of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret into a series of rolls. With the #100 entry sustaining significant mechanical damage in the incident, its driving crew did their utmost to rejoin the fray and are currently attempting to get the car back to the bivouac where Peugeot Sport’s team of technicians are awaiting them and ready to get to work to allow Peterhansel and Cottret to restart the rally at the crack of dawn today.
Type of Terrain: Stony trails, large rocks and thick vegetation – a tricky stage
Conditions: Very fast straights and technically challenging sections
Weather: Intense heat
Average Speed: 101kph
“This is the first time I have competed on such a long stage – this is real cross-country rallying! It was an exciting challenge, with plenty of changes of rhythm in the vegetation. That wasn’t easy to manage, because each one requires you to adapt your driving style accordingly. If you’d told me this morning that having set out in tenth position, we would be running first on the road for the final 100 kilometres, I would never have believed it. David and I are both marathon men, so we really come into our own on long, demanding stages like the one today.”
“We began the day in good shape, passing [Vladimir] Vasilyev and Stéphane to run first on the road and we settled into a strong rhythm, but then we dropped around 12 minutes when we got stuck between two Way Points and we conceded further time when we stopped to help Stéphane get his car back onto its wheels. As if that wasn’t enough, our throttle then stuck open 100 kilometres from the end of the stage! We took no further risks after that, with the goal being simply to get to the finish and despite all of those issues, we still set the fourth-quickest time.”
Provisional Overall Classification after Leg 5 (Astana – Balkhash)
1.Cyril Despres (FRA) / David Castera (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, 9h47m05s
2.Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MC), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +14m22s
3.Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU) / Timo Gottschalk (DEU), Mini, +14m38s
4.Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS), Mini, +15m16s
5.Aidyn Rakhimbayev (KAZ) / Anton Nikolaev (RUS), Mini, +16m04s
Today marks the final leg before the rest day and the rally’s arrival in China. It takes the form of two timed sections of respectively 111km and 224km, linked by an intermediate liaison stretch. The first stage to feature sand, the total distance to cover will be 848km.
Source: Peugeot South Africa