|Sébastien Loeb has been forced to retire from the Silk Way Rally after crashing the Peugeot DKR Maxi out of the lead on the ninth stage. |
|• Sébastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena crashed at kilometre 82 when they hit a drain just to the right of a river bed, which tripped them over and badly damaged the front of the car. After making some repairs before stopping on two further occasions, they eventually stopped contesting the stage after CP2 and instead took an asphalt road to the bivouac. |
• There, Peugeot Sport engineers assessed the damage to the Peugeot DKR Maxi and determined that it would in fact be possible for it to be repaired. But Sébastien Loeb has severely sprained his left index finger during the crash, and would not be able to continue racing as he cannot hold the steering wheel effectively anymore.
• The decision to retire has been taken on medical advice, to allow Sébastien Loeb to recover properly and take the next important steps in his season, in particular his rallycross campaign with Team Peugeot Hansen.
Sébastien Loeb, Team Peugeot Total driver
“There was hole that I didn’t see, so we hit the inside, and we broke some parts on the front of the car. We made few stops to repair the car to be able to continue, and eventually needed the help of the assistance truck. We couldn’t finish the stage because the night was coming. It was a long day. I have a sprained wrist, and I do not feel that great. So I am not able to continue driving as I can’t actually hold the steering wheel properly anymore. I know though that Team Peugeot Total would have been able to fix the car. Once again I had a really good feeling with the Peugeot DKR Maxi, which is performing well, and I am sure that this is the car we need to tackle the Dakar next year.”
Stage 9 – Silk Way Rally
|• After a brief ‘day off’ in Urumqi, China, yesterday, the Peugeot Dream Team aboard the Peugeot DKR and Peugeot DKR Maxi made their return to competitive action on the Silk Way Rally today. Stage nine proved to be a tough one to kick off the second week: four hours of intense racing with the 50 first kilometres run on sand and then the next 370 kilometres taking place over rough terrain.|
|• Stephane Peterhansel took an impressive stage victory but Sebastien Loeb crashed at kilometre 82. Cyril Despres has taken the lead of the Silk Way Rally and is now 44 minutes ahead of his closest pursuer after finishing fifth on the stage. Peugeot claimed its eighth win from nine stages and maintained the overall lead, having gone to the top right from the first day.|
• The Team Peugeot Total mechanics expect extensive damage to the front of Loeb’s Peugeot DKR Maxi, which is struggling to complete the leg. The technical crew is now waiting for Loeb to reach the service park at the Hami bivouac to examine the car carefully and see if effective repairs can be carried out.
DATAS OF STAGE 9
STAGE 9 REPORT
QUOTE / UNQUOTE
Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport director / Team Peugeot Total Manager
“At the moment, we don’t know much about the situation with Seb apart from the fact that he still has a long way to go and that the car is very damaged. It’s only once he’s back in the bivouac that we’ll be able to carry out a full assessment. In any case, what’s happened is just part of the competition; exactly the sort of thing that can occur on a rally as challenging as this one. Looking on the positive side, we still have a Peugeot in front thanks to Cyril and another stage win thanks to Stephane. We’ve seen that anything can happen though and with just one car out in front, it’s going to feel like a very long way to the end in Xi’an. The stages this week are particularly tough, so I wouldn’t like to make any predictions.”
Stéphane Peterhansel, Team Peugeot Total Driver
Winner of stage 9 / 7th overall (cars)
“Today was completely different to what we had in the first part of the rally; there was lots of off-road driving away from the tracks; not quite like the rallies in Africa but with the same sort of typical traps that can catch you out in a similar way. It’s a real shame what happened to Seb, he paid a heavy price, but that’s rally raid for you. Now I have to concentrate on trying to help Cyril to win and sticking close to him. It’s strange: you can start off with three cars that are strong but now there’s only one left in contention; that’s absolutely normal in this sport.”
Cyril DESPRES, Team Peugeot Total Driver
5th of stage 9 / 2nd overall
“It was a really rough stage in every sense of the word, with drainage ditches, bumps, broken up river beds…really everything. We got shaken around a lot, and when we saw what it was like we decided that there was no point in taking any risks. It’s also difficult to stay focused when you see your teammates hitting trouble. We still had a good pace and we were up there, although we also got slightly lost at one point and actually met Stephane while we were trying to get back. Now we’re in the lead, but it’s not going to change our approach too much, we just have to keep on driving sensibly.”
DID YOU KNOW?
A dry river bed, such as the one close to where Loeb had his accident, is known in the world of cross country rallying as a ‘oued’. This is an Arabic word that means the bed of a dry river, which gets filled up with water during the rainy season. Often a ‘oued’ has been formed naturally by flood water cutting into the earth, and big drainage channels stem off it: one of these is what Loeb unfortunately hit.
TOMORROW’S STAGE 10
Tomorrow the drivers make their way from Hami to Dunhuang, covering 517 kilometres throughout the leg, via a 360-kilometre stage. The start of the stage is extremely fast, then the route becomes slower and more technical, with several changes in direction. The navigation is very difficult towards the end of the stage, which runs alongside a salt lake.