From start to finish, Peugeot 2008 DKR delivered a combination of performance and impeccable reliability. None of the three cars suffered any technical problems of note in the course of the punishing 10,000km marathon.
This morning, as they lined up for the start of the Silk Way Rally's 14th leg, Cyril Despres / David Castera guessed it would be one of the longest days they have ever experienced in the course of their competitive careers on four wheels. The day's menu included a 261km stage which they needed to complete without making any mistakes, but at a good pace without pushing their mechanicals too hard. Despite a scare towards the end, and a minor alert which Jean Paul Cottret (#100 co-driver) soon cured, they posted the day's sixth-fastest time to seal the win on only their fourth outing on four wheels.
Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena concluded the Silk Way Rally with their 10th top-three stage time of the fortnight. Their consistency and ability to learn as the event progressed allowed the nine-time world rally champions to demonstrate that their new cross-country rally career is going from strength to strength, despite a navigational error three days from the end which relegated them to seventh overall.
After seeing their bid for victory end when they rolled on Leg 5, Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean Paul Cottret provided invaluable rear-guard assistance and flawless solidarity to the finish, helping the #102 and #104 Peugeots on several occasions. They felt comfortable in their role and admitted that the fortnight had been tremendous fun and given them a completely fresh take on the sport.
TYPE OF TERRAIN
70% tracks: 60% sand / 20% dirt
30% off-road: 25% dunes and sable /
50km of dunes early on
Sunshine; average temperature 32.2°C;
peak temperature 38.4°C
Bruno FAMIN (Team Manager, Team Peugeot Total / Director, Peugeot Sport)
"This team exudes team spirit, in every area. The most visible examples on this event were the way the three crews helped each other out, and then when everyone in the team pitched in to rebuild Stéphane and Jean-Paul's car. We are naturally very pleased to have won this extremely difficult rally which enabled us to showcase the quality of the Peugeot 2008 DKR. As the small number of incidents we had to report suggests, it now forms a matured package. Our objective was to gain more experience with the car and the crews, to reach Beijing with all three cars and win. We succeeded in ticking all those boxes!"
Stéphane PETERHANSEL (Leg: 9th / Overall: 15th)
"The Peugeot 2008 DKR is really an incredible car. It ran like clockwork and was competitive every day of the event. A big thanks for that to everyone at Peugeot Sport. It was a very interesting rally for us. The terrain was extremely varied and the conditions were very hard at times, include some blistering heat. We are disappointed that we weren't able to challenge for the win but we are delighted for Cyril and David. Cyril stopped competing on motorcycles just two years ago and here he is already winning on four wheels. A great job!"
Sébastien LOEB (Leg: 2nd / Overall: 7th)
"We've calmed down and worked a great deal since the Dakar. Now, after the Silk Way Rally, we feel even more positive. We completed a high number of kilometres, which means we spent a great deal of time in the car, driving, coping with problems and working together. Along with Daniel, our reflexes and the way we communicate together, the way we cope with the pressure, take care of the car and find our pace have improved no end. On an event like this it's a two-man job, whereas in the WRC only Daniel has to look after where we are going. Here, we sought the right headings together, discussed the wheel tracks we could see ahead of us and helped each other. We listened to each other and that's obviously great for our confidence in one another. We know what it is to drive at speed. I also think we have digested the mistakes we made in the dunes and our navigational errors so that we won't make them again. Next up for me is the Canadian round of the World Rallycross Championship, then some holiday."
Cyril DESPRES (Leg: 6th / Overall: 1st)
"Winning is an incredible, fantastic feeling and it still hasn't really sunk in. It's the first time I've won a rally with David. We have learnt so much since the start in Moscow! We were fastest on almost one stage in two, we have grown in confidence and we had tremendous fun. Peugeot Sport did a super job and I would like the them all for that. The car was brilliant. I really like competing on four wheels now!"
Provisional classification - Leg 14 (Wuhai-Hohhot)
1. Yazeed Al Rajhi (SAU) / Timo Gottschalk (DEU), Mini, 3h44min01s
2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MC), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +2min42s
3. Harry Hunt (GBR) / Andreas Schulz (DEU) , Mini, +3min21s
4. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS), Mini, +3min31s
5. Cornelis Koolen (NDL) / Pascal Larroque (FRA), MD Rallye Sport, +4min15s
6. Cyril Despres (FRA) / David Castera (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +5min36s
9. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) / Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, 11min42s
Provisional leaderboard after Leg 14
1. Cyril Despres (FRA) / David Castera (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, 36h15min18s
2. Yazeed Al Rajhi (SAU) / Timo Gottschalk (DEU), Mini, +25min51s
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) / Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS), Mini, +49min46s
4. Harry Hunt (GBR) / Andreas Schulz (DEU) , Mini, +1h54min47s
5. Aidyn Rakhimbayev (KAZ) / Anton Nikolaev (RUS), Mini, +2h12min45s
7. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MC), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +4h02min01s
15. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) / Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), PEUGEOT 2008 DKR, +9h27min03s
NEXT: PODIUM CELEBRATIONS IN BEIJING
Sunday will see the Silk Way Rally caravan head for Beijing, a 507km drive to the Birds Nest Stadium where Team Peugeot Total will get to celebrate the victory of Cyril Despres and David Castera at the podium ceremony which will be broadcast live on CCTV.
TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL AND THE SILK WAY RALLY IN NUMBERS
9 stage wins from 12 (Stages 1,3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12 and 13)
1 one-two finish (10) and one one-two-èthree finish (9)
9 stages with two cars in the top three (1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 13)
5 stage wins for Cyril DESPRES / David CASTERA (3, 5, 7, 9 and 12)
4 stage wins for Stéphane PETERHANSEL / Jean Paul COTTRET (1, 4, 10 and 13)
10 stage podiums for Sébastien LOEB / Daniel ELENA (four times second and one victory)