Leg distance: 783,84 km Special distance: 488,65 km Leg 11. The fort of the fertile valley Second time of the rally where two special stages will be run in the same day. The first one starts in sometimes very soft dunes, on around 20 kms. Then the track becomes more technical but fast alongside the mountain, up to the CP. The end of this first special is fast with navigation till the finish. 146kms of road section will then lead competitors to the start of special B made of wide sandy tracks, with nice parts between canyons, and a very nice finish. ---- The Italian Eugenio Amos (Buggy Two Wheels Drive n°115) pulled off the surprise of the day by winning the 10th stage of the Silk Way Rally in the car class. A stage that Sébastien Loeb (Peugeot 3008DKR n°104) didn’t start this morning after announcing his retirement from the event, following yesterday’s accident. In the trucks, it is Nikolaev (Kamaz-Master n°307) who posts the fastest time after a tough fight with the Tatra Phoenix of the Czech driver Martin Kolomy. Key points #Despres gets lost… Amos wins! #Loeb throws in the towel #Kolomy loses a tyre, Nikolaev profits #Tomorrow: “The fort in the fertile valley” Depres gets lost… Amos wins! First on the road this morning, Peterhansel pulled over to wait for Despres, obliging Lu Binglong (Baïcmotor n°130) to open the piste today ahead of the Geeley SMG buggies of his countrymen Liu Kun and Han Wei. Leading at all the timing points up until 40 kms from the end, Cyril Despres (Peugeot 3008DKR n°100) looked like he was about to celebrate taking the overall lead with a second stage victory, until a navigation error cost him precious minutes. Starting just behind him this morning, the Italian Eugenio Amos and his French co-pilot Sébastien Delaunay (Buggy Two Wheels Drive n°115) couldn’t believe their eyes when, towards the end of the special, they saw the two Peugeots emerging from the wrong track and shot past them towards the line… Novice in the discipline, it was with tears streaming down his cheeks that the 30 something ‘gentleman driver’ crossed the finish line to take an unexpected victory at the wheel of the buggy that Carlos Sainz drove in the 2014 Dakar. Behind the Italian the Mini John Cooper Works of Yazeed Al Rajhi and Bryce Menzies completed the day’s podium, just ahead of Despres and Christian Lavieille (Baïcmotor n°107). Sixth on the special but still 2nd overall, Han Wei not only gives away time to Despres, but also to Menzies and Lavieille, who are now only 2m43s and 6m06s respectively overall behind the Chinese driver. Loeb throws in the towel… Well before the start of this 10th stage, during the night at the bivouac in Hami, Sébastien Loeb and his Peugeot Total team decided to withdraw him from the race following the accident he suffered a few hours before on the 9thstage. “My finger is hurting, I can no longer hold the steering wheel and I don’t feel very well. I won’t be able to continue the race like this. I know that Team Peugeot Total are able to repair the car. But I have to save myself and get better for the rest of our programme. Once again, I had a very good feeling driving the Peugeot DKR Maxi. It is a fast and competitive car.” Trucks: Kolomy loses a tyre, Nikolaev profits Down on sparring partners since coming into China, the Kamaz armada were once again able to count on the Czech Martin Kolomy (Tatra Phoenix n°311) to give them a run for their money. Starting behind the Tatar foursome, Kolomy was leading through on the timing points and getting ready to take his 3rd stage victory when a rear puncture tripped him up on the final sprint. Finishing on the wheel of his Tatra, he was in the end beaten over the line by Eduard Nikolaev (Kamaz-Master n°307). Sotnikov, Shibalov and Mardeev, rounded out the day’s top 5 ahead of the Iveco Powerstar n°310 of the Kazakh Ardavicius. Overall Dmitry Sotnikov (Kamaz-Master n°303) increases slightly his lead over his team mates Shibalov (+15m12s) and Mardeev (+29m48s). Kolomy (4th) remains in contact at 30m30s. ROAD BOOK Tomorrow: Stage 11 DUNHUANG-JIAYUGUAN “The fort in the fertile valley” 783,84 km As the first special was due to be run in a region that has very recently been declared a nature reserve by the Chinese authorities, the organisers of the Silk Way Rally have decided to cancel ES11A, while maintaining the second timed special (ES11B) of the 11th stage. Held in wide sand river beds and between the canyons, it will be very fast at the end… QUOTES Cyril Despres “It was interesting to start the race in a different skin – the skin of the leader. Yesterday we were second and trying not to mistakes to stay on the front row. This morning the pace wasn’t exceptional. Just trying to warm up the engine and the suspension. Nicer to drive compared with yesterday which was very bumpy. We overtook one Chinese driver, then another and then a third but 40 kms from the finish line David made a small mistake and we took the wrong track and got lost. Luckily Stephane was behind and so we worked out where we were and then just confirm that we were good Amos came past. It was nice for him to win his first special, he was crying at the end, he couldn’t stop crying and they did a good job.” Eugenio Amos “We could see the dust of the cars in front and I said to my co-driver, ‘today could be our day’. The others got lost but we didn’t so 50% of the victory is thanks to my co-driver. It is a victory that is very merited. I started crying 5 kilometres from the end. I couldn’t control myself. It was a dream that became a reality.” Bryce Menzies “The day started with some really tight and technical driving. We were in silt and dust, we got stuck behind a couple of trucks and getting by them took us time. Once we were able to overtake them it opened up for us and we were able to hit some high speed. It makes such a difference when you’ve got clean air in front of you rather than dust. All in all it was a fun stage and our car ran great again. Finishing third on the stage gives us a good starting position for tomorrow.” Han Wei "Today I kept my own pace, the stage was smooth, there were no problems. I can’t afford to make any mistakes in the coming stages, so I’m trying to be cautious. I’m actually not thinking a lot of the results now, I think it's more important to just enjoy the race." Ayrat Mardeev "Today there were a lot of winding stretches, in some places there was a risk to get a puncture. We drove carefully, because we know that there is a lot more sand ahead. The main thing was not to lose time due to navigation or punctures. " Eduard Nikolaev "In general, we are satisfied with the stage, it was very interesting. We expected more off-road, judging by the description, and yesterday the organizers said that the track would be more "bumpy". As we are testing a new cabin suspension and main suspension, I would like more off-piste. But still, four full days ahead and I think that everything will be there. " Arthur Ardavicius “The suspension was working perfectly today from the beginning and until the end of the special stage. I tried to catch up with the trucks in front of us but the distance was big. They are almost always at the limit - today was a real rally track! The section in the riverbed was interesting - gliding along smooth silt roads among the bushes. Excellent driving!" Alexei Vishnevsky "For us the day was successful, we drove all the way without any problems. A fairly high-speed section - at first there was off-piste, quite challenging, then the riverbeds and a fairly fast section. We reached the finish line without any problems." Gerard de Rooy "Everything went well, but at some point we had problems with the tire, and then the air hose. With this we lost about 20 minutes. "