Red Bull: Peugeot make perfect start at wet and wild Silk Way

Stéphane Peterhansel © DR

Raging rainstorms have been a regular feature of the early stages of the 2017 Silk Way Rally. The other common occurrence so far at the mammoth Trans-Eurasian race has been the dominance of reigning champions Team Peugeot Total.

Peugeot’s trio of French drivers – Sébastien Loeb, Stéphane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres – have locked out the podium on the opening two stages of the race.

Their rally-raid rivals have so far had no answer to the sheer power pace of Peugeot’s machinery and the masterful skills being shown behind the wheel.

13-time Dakar Rally winner Peterhansel rose to the top of the general classification thanks to his Stage 2 win, with Stage 1 victor Loeb now placed second overall. Last year’s Silk Way champion Despres rounds off the current top three.

« “The opening stage went really well for us and we had a good time. The rain has added an extra degree of difficulty for us all because the mud is making these narrow tracks very slippery » Sébastien Loeb

 The best of the rest so far has been rally-raid rookie Bryce Menzies who has scored a pair of Top 5 finishes on the first two stages. The American offroader is fourth overall and will look to stay as close as possible to the three Peugeots as the race moves into Kazakhstan tomorrow.

“ »We’re starting to show what we can do out here ».” – Bryce Menzies

Over in the truck race there has been an uncharacteristically slow start by Team Kamaz Master, first on the short 67km opening stage and then over the 157km of Stage 2. The slippery conditions have proved hard to handle for Russia’s Blue Armada. Despite all four Kamaz trucks being outside the early podium places there were signs on the second stage that they still have plenty left in the tank to produce a charge at this two-week race.

“We have total faith in the truck and the team so we’ll stay focused on improving our position.” – Ayrat Mardeev

Tomorrow’s stage presents a big opportunity for any drivers hoping to claw back time with 329km of racing against the clock. The Silk Way Rally will wave goodbye to Russia as it departs from Ufa and makes the journey to Kostanay, Kazakhstan.

Results
Car Race General Classification after Stage 2 (Provisional)
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) – Peugeot, 2h33m31s
2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) – Peugeot, +1m19s
3. Cyril Despres (FRA) – Peugeot, +3m32s
4. Bryce Menzies (USA) – Mini, +12m00s
5. Wei Han (CHN) – Geely, +17m31s…

Truck Race General Classification after Stage 2 (Provisional)
1. Maaten Van Den Brink (NLD) – Renault, 3h05m20s
2. Gerard De Rooy (NLD) – Iveco, +0m13s
3. Artur Ardavicius (LTU) – Iveco, +1m31s
4. Anton Shiblov (RUS) – Kamaz, +2m26s
5. Martin Kolomy (CZE) – Tatra, +5m38s
6. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS)   Kamaz, +6m12s
7. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) – Kamaz, +9m27s
10. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) – Kamaz, +24m04s…

Quotes
Sébastien Loeb #104: “The opening stage went really well for us and we had a good time. The rain has added an extra degree of difficulty for us all because the mud is making these narrow tracks very slippery. For the second stage we had to open the road and that is never easy, especially when the route is over 150km. But this is rally-raid racing and we got on with it the best we could. These early results are helping the spirit within the team and we all want to maintain this winning feeling.”

Bryce Menzies #105: “It feels great to get the Silk Way Rally started. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while so it’s exciting to finally be racing. The days have been long but it’s going to be like that until the end so we’re just going to have to get used it to. We’ve made a few mistakes in the mud and rain, but there’s still a long way to go. We’ve placed inside the Top 5 on the first two stages so we’re starting to show what we can do out here.”

Ayrat Mardeev #300: “We have not been able to adapt to the slippery conditions as we would have liked. Large sections of the route have been very wet and we have found this a challenge so far. Also, we opened the road on the opening stage which was a disadvantage for us. However, we have total faith in the truck and the team so we’ll stay focused on improving our position.”

Christian Gaither,

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