Cyril Despres in front as Peterhansel picks up a puncture

Team Peugeot-Total’s Cyril Despres leads after Leg Three of the Silk Way Rally after his team-mate Stéphane Peterhansel suffered a slow puncture and broken rim nine minutes into the stage.

It was the first time in his career on four wheels that Despres has led a cross-country rally as today’s leg covered over eight-hundred and fifteen kilometres from Ufa (Russia) to Kostanay, Kazakhstan.

Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena were first to tackle the leg after the first two crews came to a stop on the stage. The Franco-Monegasque pair suffered with some tall grass, obstructing their route, but it didn’t stop them from claiming a solid third place.

Peterhansel had a day to forget after winning the opening super stage on Saturday, suffering with a slow puncture and broken rim, nine minutes into the test. This left the 2016 Dakar Rally winner languishing in eighth place.

Despres said “I thoroughly enjoyed myself today. The stage was twisty and pretty much stone-free, so it was fun to drive. We made a couple of navigational errors but they didn’t cost us much time. David did a great job. I hope we will see more of the same tomorrow and that we will be able to keep up the same sort of pace as we did today.”

Loeb spoke about his trouble-free performance on Leg Three, sayingMy car performed well and we didn’t have any problems whatsoever. After Stéphane and Vasilyev stopped, we found ourselves running first on the road. There was a lot of tall grass and it wasn’t always easy to spot the correct track. We made a few mistakes but we didn’t take any risks. We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that our objective is to clock up as many kilometres as possible and also find a pace that suits us without overdoing it.”

Peterhansel addedWe picked up a slow puncture shortly after the start of the stage. We decided not to change the wheel but then we had to stop because of another puncture. It was a very interesting stage and technically quite challenging. Like most crews, we made a few navigational mistakes like others competitors. Things will be better tomorrow.”