The prologue to the Silk Way Rally offered a brief warm-up as the PEUGEOT 2008 DKRs and Peugeot Sport crews got quickly down to business in Kazan, Russia. Stéphane Peterhansel assumed an early lead and will consequently run first on the road for Leg 2. Sébastien Loeb and Cyril Despres placed respectively third and sixth, just four and eight seconds adrift of their pace-setting team-mate.
The first stage of the Silk Way Rally provided an immediate test for the support crews, with an early start followed by a liaison distance of some 850km – almost a 14-hour drive – between Moscow’s Olympic Stadium and the Kazan Arena.
For the crews, however, the prologue was short and sweet with just two kilometres of competitive running, but with those two kilometres settling the starting order for the second leg – the first proper stage of the Silk Way Rally – a quick time was vital to tackling the remainder of the event in the best possible conditions. The sandy terrain was characterised by ruts, fast corners and jumps.
Tomorrow (Sunday, 10 July), competitors will leave Kazan in the direction of Ufa (Russia), with a total of 626.66km to be covered, 135.78km of which will be against the clock. The majority of the stage will take place on grassy dirt tracks, which are likely to be slippery following the bad weather of recent days.
“The official start might have taken place last night, but today witnessed the true start of the rally. The stage was well laid-out and a lot of fun to drive with its jumps, but too short for our liking! Although it had been a few weeks since being in the car, we soon settled back into the groove. This short stage was a positive way to begin the event, given that it determined tomorrow’s starting order. We will be running first on the road and with the terrain expected to be muddy, we must treat it with the utmost respect.”
“Set on a beach, today’s test was covered in sand with several bumps and turns. Earlier rain made the sand particularly heavy, so we didn’t take any risks as in those conditions it’s all too easy to end up on your roof! What’s more, our goal was never to be first on the road tomorrow.”