Dakar – Silk Way Rally
The first days of the 15-stage rally from Russia to China via Kazakhstan have seen powerful performances from the biggest names in the race. Team Peugeot-Total have already picked up all stage wins on offer in the car race while Team Kamaz Master have surged into an early lead in the truck category.
It has been a game of cat and mouse at the front of the car race with Peugeot teammates Stéphane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres taking it in turns to win the stages so far. Peterhansel set the fastest time on the prologue as well as during Tuesday’s 568 kilometres of timed racing between Kostanay and Astana. Despres meanwhile celebrated a stage win on Monday as the Silk Way left Russia and entered Kazakhstan. The fact that both drivers have suffered punctures while opening the road the day after stage wins underlines the severe navigational challenges that exist at this race.
It’s been a steadier ride for Sébastien Loeb, who drives the third Peugeot 2008 DKR at the Silk Way. The nine-time WRC winner sits third overall after three days of measured attacks and lies 2min51s behind Peterhansel who has claimed the outright lead of the race. Cyril is a further minute behind Loeb in fourth overall following this impressive start to proceedings by Team Peugeot-Total.
Team Kamaz Master are also giving their fans plenty to cheer about with six crews parked in the top six positions in the race. The Russia truckers have demonstrated unrivalled pace in the first days of the Silk Way with former Dakar Rally winners Eduard Nikolaev and Andrey Karginov both collecting stage wins. Nikolaev’s new Kapotnik truck proved unstoppable on Tuesday’s stage (the longest of the entire rally) as it not only took the stage win but also ended the day topping the general classification.
Eduard enjoys an advantage of 5m34s over Karginov ahead of today’s stage between Astana and Balkhash as the Russians sit first and second respectively in the truck category.
The next two days of racing at the Silk Way will all take place in Kazakhstan before competitors take a rest day in Almaty on Friday.
Credits : Photos and content courtesy of Red Bull Media Content