Stéphane Peterhansel reclaimed control after struggling yesterday with a puncture to increase his lead at the Silk Way Rally over Vladimir Vasilyev.
Despite the hot conditions in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana, the over two-hundred and twenty-three kilometre route had the crews fighting with sticky mud due to earlier heavy rain, making it a test of keeping the cars on the road.
Cyril Despres/David Castera were first on the road, which made things challenging in terms of navigation. The French pair did lose some time, leaving them fourth overall. Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena were third, and stayed in their overall position after the stage.
It was Peterhansel who recovered from a bad day yesterday to produce a perfect run and increase the Team Peugeot-Total crew’s lead over MINI All4 Racing’s Vladimir Vasilyev to over six minutes and twenty-two seconds.
Peterhansel said after the stage “The first 60 kilometres or so were muddy and very slippery but also lots of fun. There was quite a lot of navigation again and, running some way down the start order, we were at an advantage because the trail had already been blazed. That said, the mud thrown up by the cars ahead of us made visibility quite difficult. That said, we reached a top speed of around 185kph at one point despite the conditions being far from ideal. Our car is going well.”
Loeb was relieved to stay third, despite the tall grass obstructing the track, saying “You could hardly see the track through the tall grass, so the navigation was quite hard. We got away to a good start and soon caught Cyril and Al-Rahji. The three of us then got lost together several times. After that, we drove in a convoy at the same pace as the car at the front of the field. We ended up with the third-best time without any major drama.”
Despres added “It was raining when we started the stage and the first 50 kilometres were over untouched fields with nothing to indicate the correct route. The going was also very muddy. Our pace wasn’t very fast and first Al-Rahji, then Sébastien caught us. We ran together after that. We were playing cat and mouse games when we hit a lump of concrete hidden in the long grass. We punctured but we decided to continue until the end of the stage without changing the wheel. It could have been worse…”