[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he third stage of the Silk Way Rally presented very different conditions to the two shorter stages seen before: extensive gravel tracks and short grass, with dry weather as opposed to the earlier deluges.
The stage was also much longer: 329km forming a mental and physical endurance test that lasted over 3h10m – twice more than yesterday- and was completed at very high speed of 200kph.
The scenery may be different today but the overall results are the same: three Peugeots in the top three positions, despite problems for last year’s Silk Way Rally winner Cyril Despres. Sébastien Loeb was pushing hard right from the start and quickly made time on teammate Stéphane Peterhansel, resulting in a 4m34s gap between the two drivers in the stage rankings and 3m15s gap in the overall classification. The following competitors are now almost 40m off the Peugeot ‘Dream Team’.
Just a few kilometers before halfway point of the stage, Cyril Despres made a minor navigational mistake and got trapped in a hole, where he stayed stuck for 12m. As a result, it was not a Peugeot one-two-three on the stage today, but Cyril keeps third in the overall rankings, with a comfortable 21m cushion.