Despres and co-driver David Castera successfully navigating a tricky stage on day five to keep up the unbeaten winning streak for Peugeot. Navigation was the major challenge of the day, and Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena lost time searching the good direction in high grass, finishing 17min down on Despres. They still remain in the overall lead by 50 minutes in the brand new Peugeot DKRMaxi.
For Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret, a broken front-right shock absorber forces them to stop on the stage, losing them 52 minutes relative toDespres.
The fifth day of the Silk Way Rally was perhaps the toughest and most challenging yet in terms of navigation: a fast stage from Astana to Semey with multiple route options but only one right way to the next bivouac. Team Peugeot Total had little time to admire Kazakh Steppe’ stunning scenery with precise navigation being the focus of attention on this special stage.
Cyril Despres / David Castera, who started in 18th position sorted it out well, and shortened the gap to teammate Sébastien Loeb by 17min in the overall classification. Their first stage victory on the 2017 Silk Way Rally provides them some more confidence for the upcoming challenging stages until the rest day in Urumqi.
A mixed day compared to yesterday’s glory for the duo in the Peugeot DKR Maxi. As they opened the track, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena took more time to make the right navigational choice and finished in the top 5 (cars classification). The mood is still high as their new car seems to particularly fit to Loeb.
Yesterday, in the backstage, the technical crew worked flat out to set-up the Peugeot DKR #106, demonstrating that team spirit is high in Team Peugeot Total. This morning, at dawn, after 8h of work by mechanics, Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean Paul Cottret were able to align at the stage departure. Unfortunately, they were slowed down in their recovery when the right front shock absorber broke at the km385. They ended up 15th of the stage and remain 3h38 back in the overall classification.
Cyril Despres, Driver Team Peugeot Total
Winner of stage 5 / 2nd overall
“It’s now five days since we left Moscow and I think this has been our first really good day without any problems. The mud and the rain are gone: we had a nice day. David did a really good job with navigation because the grass was really high and you couldn’t see much of the track ahead. It’s a first victory for us. We took a lot of time from our competitors which is really good, and let’s hope that from now on every day will be like this.”
Sébastien Loeb, Driver Team Peugeot Total
5th of stage 5 / 1st overall
“Today the navigation was very, very complex. There were some bits where you were driving and the road just completely ran out. It was definitely the most difficult job in terms of navigation so far. We got lost in a couple of places, it was complicated, and we had to go back. But anyway, we are still here, and the car is working well. Everything else was fine in terms of weather and conditions, it was just the navigation that was difficult today and irritated me.”
Stéphane Peterhansel, Driver Team Peugeot Total
15th of stage 5 / 13th overall (car category)
“Today the special stage was nice to drive and we had a good rhythm. Now our mission is to lend a hand to the other two Peugeots. Thank you to the team for their hard work last night, to repair my car. The technical issue we faced today, just 100km before the arrival, was probably an aftereffect but still, the Team Peugeot Total mechanics are the most professional I ever worked with in my career. It’s a difficult rally where you don’t want to make extra work for the mechanics. Another big stage is behind us, let’s get some good rest and drive safe until Urumqi.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Semey was known until 2007 as Semipalatinsk, meaning ‘seven-chambered city’ in Russian. It was so named by the first Russian settlers in 1718, who built a fort near a ruined Buddhist monastery made up of seven buildings. The city was the birthplace in 1976 of the two-time former world heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Tomorrow the crews will head from Semey to Urdzhar in the south of Kazakhstan: a route lasting 597.13 kilometres including 387.86 kilometres of special stage. Caution is advised in the off-road sections with many potential traps to catch the crews out. As it was today, good navigation will be crucial.
MINI Motorsport Silk Way Rally Leg 5 review: Astana – Semey
The day’s route followed magnificent lakes and landscapes, with a combination of fast roads and difficult navigation.
Menzies: It was a long stage; the beginning was really fast, high speed roads. The navigation was good and me and Pete were really clicking along. The middle of the stage was a little bit slower and towards the end the navigation was tough, but we picked it back up in the last 100km and pushed to the finish. It was a really strong day for us, we ended up third and we’re now third overall too. The car was running great and we’re feeling really good for tomorrow.”
Yazeed Al Rajhi (KSA) and Tom Colsoul (BEL) completed the Leg in ninth position to break back inside the top 20 on the leader board. The duo, who are completing their first ever rally as team-mates in the #101 MINI John Cooper Works Rally are now ranked 19th overall and continue to improve their position daily despite setbacks on Leg 2.
Colsoul: “Today was a very nice stage; a little bit long, but nice. Navigation was extremely tough because of the long grass and that made it a disastrous stage to start as the first or second car. We were the grass machine for the other cars to open the road by being in the front two, so the times were not great, but I think we did well. It was a good stage for the trucks today as they sit much higher but for me was a very good day. I’m very happy with how I navigated, it was a fantastic exercise and even though it was super difficult I managed and did well. I’m really happy even though our current position is not what we hoped for.”
Thursday’s Leg 6, Semey – Urdzhar, will cover 597.13km, of which 387.86km is special stage, that takes in many changes of direction and small, tricky off-track sections.