The sixth leg of the Silk Way Rally – the last before today’s rest day – saw the PEUGEOT 2008 DKRs of Cyril Despres with David Castera and Sébastien Loeb with Daniel Elena complete the day in first and second places overall.
Meanwhile, the superb overnight work of Peugeot Sport’s mechanics and technical staff ensured that the Peugeot 2008 DKR of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret was able to stay in the event.
Gale force winds at the start of the second part of yesterday’s leg and a weather warning for the finish in Almaty forced the organisers to cancel part of the initially-scheduled 411-kilometre drive and after contesting a 111km stage, competitors were diverted onto the same route as that taken by the service vehicles.
After winning Wednesday’s stage, the #104 PEUGEOT 2008 DKR was the first car to leave the overnight halt. Cyril Despres and David Castera came 15th today after suffering a number of problems but they still top the provisional leaderboard.
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena took advantage of errors by their direct rivals to gain ground. They completed today’s stage in third position to strengthen their footing on the podium (2nd overall), just eight minutes short of their team-mates.
Despite their woes on Leg 5 (Wednesday), Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret succeeded in nursing the #100 PEUGEOT 2008 DKR back to the bivouac in the middle of the night after dropping more than six hours to the leaders, plus time penalties. Team Peugeot Total’s technical squad worked through the night to get the car back into shape in less than seven hours, their efforts focusing notably on the front-left and rear-right suspension, as well as on the engine’s cooling system. The team’s inspection didn’t reveal any irremediable damage, which meant the French pair was able to line up for the start of Leg 6 this morning, watched proudly by Peugeot Sport Director Bruno Famin. They went on to post the second-best time on the stage.
Type of terrain: Dirt tracks and vegetation-free off-road driving
Conditions: Navigation by compass bearing
Weather: Wind and bright sunshine
Average Speed: 93.3kph
“A lot of crews are going well! We had the difficult honour of running first on the road again today and there was a great deal of off-road driving. We did the job we had to do and we are still first overall. The second part of the event is quite mouth-watering, with lots of sand and dunes… proper cross-country rallying!”
“In conditions like this, it’s obviously an advantage to run a little way down the start order because you can see the tracks made by the cars ahead of you. We soon caught the front-runners and it turned out to be a good day for us because we made up time on our main rivals. Being in second place at the rest day is a big confidence booster.”
“After our crash yesterday, we needed to build up our confidence again and get back into the rhythm. Our start order helped us to make up for lost time because we could see the tracks made by the vehicles ahead of us. There wasn’t much real off-road driving for us because we were behind the fastest trucks and that allowed us to post a good time. All the mechanics spent the night doing everything they could to make sure we could stay in the event and we were even in a position where we were able to fight for the stage win! It’s very pleasing to have posted the second-best time. Our aim now is to help Cyril and Sébastien and make sure there’s a Peugeot on top when we reach Beijing.”
Provisional overall leaderboard after Leg 6 (Balkhash-Almaty)
1. Cyril Despres (FRA) / David Castera (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, + 11h06min35s
2.Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MC), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +8min
3.Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS), Mini, +9min50s
4.Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU) / Timo Gottschalk (DEU), Mini, +12min50s
5.Aidyn Rakhimbayev (KAZ) / Anton Nikolaev (RUS), Mini, +14min58s
71.Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) / Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +9h11min29s