Raging rainstorms have been a regular feature of the early stages of the 2017 Silk Way Rally. The other common occurrence so far at the mammoth Trans-Eurasian race has been the dominance of reigning champions Team Peugeot Total.
Peugeot’s trio of French drivers – Sébastien Loeb, Stéphane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres – have locked out the podium on the opening two stages of the race. Their rally-raid rivals have so far had no answer to the sheer power pace of Peugeot’s machinery and the masterful skills being shown behind the wheel.
13-time Dakar Rally winner Peterhansel rose to the top of the general classification thanks to his Stage 2 win, with Stage 1 victor Loeb now placed second overall. Last year’s Silk Way champion Despres rounds off the current top three.
“The opening stage went really well for us and we had a good time. The rain has added an extra degree of difficulty for us all because the mud is making these narrow tracks very slippery.” – Sébastien Loeb
The best of the rest so far has been rally-raid rookie Bryce Menzies who has scored a pair of Top 5 finishes on the first two stages. The American offroader is fourth overall and will look to stay as close as possible to the three Peugeots as the race moves into Kazakhstan tomorrow.
“We’re starting to show what we can do out here.” – Bryce Menzies
Over in the truck race there has been an uncharacteristically slow start by Team Kamaz Master, first on the short 67km opening stage and then over the 157km of Stage 2. The slippery conditions have proved hard to handle for Russia’s Blue Armada. Despite all four Kamaz trucks being outside the early podium places there were signs on the second stage that they still have plenty left in the tank to produce a charge at this two-week race.
“We have total faith in the truck and the team so we’ll stay focused on improving our position.” – Ayrat Mardeev
Tomorrow’s stage presents a big opportunity for any drivers hoping to claw back time with 329km of racing against the clock. The Silk Way Rally will wave goodbye to Russia as it departs from Ufa and makes the journey to Kostanay, Kazakhstan.
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Car Race General Classification after Stage 2 (Provisional)
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) Peugeot 2h33m31s
Truck Race General Classification after Stage 2 (Provisional)
1. Maaten Van Den Brink (NLD) Renault 3h05m20s