Cyril Despres and David Castera produced a perfect run to reclaim the lead of the 2016 Silk Way Rally after Leg 5.
Despres was the star of the show on the longest stage of the rally for Team Peugeot-Total as the Frenchman took a dominant stage victory, reclaiming the overall lead of the Silk Way by over fourteen and a half minutes ahead of their team-mates Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena.
Loeb and Elena weren’t immune to a number of navigational issues, as well as helping Peterhansel’s stricken 2008 DKR, which meant that they had lost time in the stage. However, it didn’t stop them from chasing their team-mates Despres and Castera and finishing fourth on leg five and second overall.
The Peugeot 2008 DKR of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret crashed out 416 kilometres into the stage, sustaining a significant amount of mechanical damage to the Peugeot. Therefore, Peterhansel and Cottret will restart their rally at dawn tomorrow once the team have repaired the car.
Despres said “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.”
Loeb added “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 waypoints 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.”
Tomorrow’s Leg 6 marks the final stage before the teams and crews have a rest day, before the Silk Way Rally continues in China.