Team Peugeot-Total claimed three out of the four top positions after Stage 8 of the Silk Way Rally.
Today’s leg was the longest of the entire rally so far as the crews and teams, a 905.35 kilometre run from Bortala to the capital of Xijiang Province Urumqi, which included some very rough portions, as well as some complex off-road driving in searing heat.
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena were the lead Peugeot 2008 DKR crew in second, closing the lead to the overall leaders Cyril Despres and David Castera to under seven minutes.
Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret’s speed meant they caught up to the leaders very quickly, which meant that they had secured third place in the stage. Despres and Castera took no risks in the stage, securing fourth place and remained the overall leaders in the Silk Way, going into Monday’s Stage 9.
Despres said after Stage 8 “It was a long day. The stage was very twisty and quite badly cut up through the corners in many places. It could have been very easy to make a mistake.
“We found it impossible to stay close to Sébastien because we were unsighted in his dust, although we managed to shorten the gap a bit on the off-road sections. Cross-country rallying is all about endurance and there is still a very long way to go, and we don’t expect what’s still to come to be easy. My direct rivals aren’t novices and they all have around 15 years’ more experience than me. It will be important to keep a cool head.”
Loeb was pleased with his performance on today’s leg, saying “We are both pleased with our day despite the fatigue and heat. It was an interesting stage to drive and we overtook Cyril about 30km after the start. We always knew this one would be complex for the guy running at the front of the field, but there comes a moment where you need to be prepared to take risks. We just tried to find the right path, drive how we felt comfortable and keep clocking up more experience. Al Rajhi was able to benefit from our wheel tacks to catch us. Tomorrow will be another day, so it will be important to get in some decent rest.”
Peterhansel added “When you start the day with a 500km road section, you know it’s not going to be an easy run! The navigation was quite hard and we came across the first sections of soft sand, plus some fairly tricky portions where it can be so easy to make a mistake. It was complex, but still a good day overall for Team Peugeot-Total. Personally, I didn’t drive flat out and I didn’t attempt to win the stage, even though I ran close to Al Rajhi for the last 30 or so kilometres. I preferred to play it as a team.”