|• Three days of the Silk Way Rally completed and the Peugeot drivers are still first, second and third in the overall rankings and even widen the gap to the other competitors.
• Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena aboard the brand new Peugeot DKR Maxi win the complex stage today to move back into the overall lead, while Stephane Peterhansel / Jean Paul Cottret are second.
• Cyril Despres / David Castera hit problems but still hold onto third overall.
The third stage of the Silk Way Rally presented very different conditions to the two shorter stages seen before: extensive gravel tracks and short grass, with dry weather as opposed to the earlier deluges. The stage was also much longer: 329km forming a mental and physical endurance test that lasted over 3h10m – twice more than yesterday- and was completed at very high speed of 200kph.
The scenery may be different today but the overall results are the same: three Peugeots in the top three positions, despite problems for last year’s Silk Way Rally winner Cyril Despres. Sébastien Loeb was pushing hard right from the start and quickly made time on teammate Stéphane Peterhansel, resulting in a 4m34s gap between the two drivers in the stage rankings and 3m15s gap in the overall classification. The following competitors are now almost 40m off the Peugeot ‘Dream Team’.
Just a few kilometers before halfway point of the stage, Cyril Despres made a minor navigational mistake and got trapped in a hole, where he stayed stuck for 12m. As a result, it was not a Peugeot one-two-three on the stage today, but Cyril keeps third in the overall rankings, with a comfortable 21m cushion.
QUOTE / UNQUOTE
Sébastien LOEB, Driver Team Peugeot Total
«I’d say that it was a tricky day but it went well for us. We started third and caught Cyril after about 50 kilometres and Stephane after about 125 kilometres, so from then on we were first. Daniel did a really good job because the navigation was really not easy; no major mistakes. Apart from that, we didn’t have any big problems today and the Peugeot DKR Maxi was perfect as well. It’s a proper rally raid experience.»
Stéphane PETERHANSEL, Driver Team Peugeot Total
«It’s not so often that you get a stage like this on the Silk Way before leaving Russia; this is normally the type of stage that you see later on in the rally. Today was very nice! I liked the stage a lot but the navigation was really complicated; especially when you are first on the road, with lots of little gravel tracks running through the grass. So it’s hard to know which direction is the right one. Definitely this was the most complicated stage of the rally so far, so we are happy to get through it. And we had nice weather as well, which is a bit of a contrast to before!»
Cyril DESPRES, Pilote Team Peugeot Total
«Not a good day for us, but it could have been much worse. We got off course then became stuck in quite a deep hole and finally lost much time. So I’m disappointed but it’s not the end of the world. We have a long way still to go and every chance of doing well.»
MINI Motorsport Silk Way Rally Leg 3: Ufa – Kostanay review
Bryce Menzies (USA) retains top-five position after 12th place finish in Leg 3.
Yazeed Al Rajhi back on track with a show of strength to finish today’s leg with a determined fifth.
American duo Bryce Menzies and co-driver Peter Mortensen retain their top five standing on the leader board despite completing Leg 3 in 12th position. The #105 MINI John Cooper Works Rally performed perfectly over the once again troublesome tall and slippery grass surface but a puncture cost some time despite a fairly rapid wheel-change. Today’s racing still finds the Silk Way Rally first-timers in fourth place overall.
Leg 3 saw similar levels of deep holes and obscured vision from dense, tall vegetation as Leg 2 when the competitors crossed the last stages of Russian terrain en route to the Kazakhstan border and stop-over point Kostanay, where they will start tomorrow’s Leg 4.
Mortensen: “The stage started out good for the first 100km. After that the navigation was very difficult and hard to see the tracks with how high the grass was. We suffered a right rear puncture around 250km, which was quickly changed. A lot of big holes and off camber hills came our way. Overall, it was a great learning stage.”
Yazeed Al Rajhi (KSA) and Tom Colsoul (BEL) set about making up ground after yesterday’s (Leg 2) disappointing incident that incurred a five-hour-plus penalty and saw the unfortunate pairing drop from the top five leaders to 41st overall.
Today’s race response was equally dramatic but this time in a positive direction for the crew of the MINI John Cooper Works Rally #101. The MINI Family members crossed Leg 3’s finish line in fifth position. With such a severe time difference to make up, Al Rajhi is intent on showing what a force he and the MINI John Cooper Works Rally can be by being at the thick end of the racing action.
Tomorrow’s Leg 4 starts in Kazakhstan with the competitors taking on 908.8km of new terrain, of which 373.22km are special stage kilometres en route to Astana