DAKAR: Peugeot drivers take stock at half-distance

2017-01-08 18:45:12

With the Dakar Rally competitors taking a welcome rest break at the halfway point in this year's marathon raid through South America, Peugeot drivers Stephane Peterhansel, Sebastien Loeb and Cyril Despres hold the top three positions overall with their Peugeot 3008DKR entries. The fight at the front remains close in the Cars category, however, with just five minutes covering a top four rounded out by Toyota's Nani Roma.

"We don't have a big lead but it's nice to be in front, even though I can't help feeling that I took a little too much time getting into the swing," said Peterhansel, who capitalized on some engine troubles for Loeb that delayed the WRC legend on Thursday's stage. "We have made a few navigational errors. Thankfully, they didn't cost us too much time and we are first overall this evening despite a relatively poor first week.

"This year's stages have been more in keeping with the spirit of cross-country rallying than last year. We've had a nice mix and good variety. I am expecting to see more dunes next week, and some more challenging navigation, but that suits us. I hope our car will continue to be just as reliable because we haven't had a single problem so far."

Loeb, who one two of last week's stages, including the last one on Friday (Saturday's schedules sixth stage was washed out) expressed satisfaction with how he and co-driver Daniel Elena have improved their rally-raid skills over their first Dakar run last year.

"We're halfway into the rally and I'm pleased with how we've gone so far. It's great to see three Peugeots in front," said the Frenchman. "Daniel and I aren't far behind Stephane, so there's still everything to play for. Being just a minute down after the time we have lost so far – including our engine problem which cost us 25 minutes, plus a puncture – is very encouraging. There were times when we were convinced we were no longer in contention.

"The stages have been real cross-country rally tests, including off-road driving and hard navigation. Even the more experienced crews have had problems, so it's good to be still in the fight."

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