Stage three of the Silk Way Rally left Russia and headed to Kazakhstan with a long stage between Ufa and Kostanay, featuring 329km of special. And once again the Peugeot’s dominated.
Today it was the turn of nine-time World Rally Champion Sébastian Loeb, who finished more than four minutes ahead of his stablemate Stephan Peterhansel.
While the contest is beginning to look like a two-horse race, Loeb now leads the 13-time Dakar winner by 3mins 15secs overall, while defending champion Cyril Despres is 17mins 12secs back.
Second today, Peterhansel ended up giving away 4m34s to Loeb and is this evening 3m15s behind overall.
The performance of the day came from Chinese driver Zhou Yong who started in 39th position but finishing third overall, ahead of Despres.
Yazeed Alrahji – who lost over two hours yesterday after getting stuck in a ditch – finished fifth.
In the T2 category, after Adrian Di Lallo dominated for two stages it was the turn of the Team Toyota Autobody driver Akira Miura to shine. Winning the special by a comfortable margin, the Japanese driver now leads the Australian by 10 minutes.
Viazovich breaks his duck
After being the nearly man on three previous occasion, Siarhei Viazovich, of the MAZ team from Minsk finally realised his dream of winning a rally-raid special on this third stage of the 2017 Silk Way Rally.
Second, less than a minute behind, the Czech driver Martin Kolomy for Tatra, who takes the overall lead.
Kolomy is looking good in the trucks and 2:40 clear of a trio of Kamaz drivers: Anton Shibalov, Dmitry Sotnikov and Airat Mardeev.
Tomorrow’s stage at 908 kilometres is the longest of the rally and takes the race from Kostanay to Astana, the Kazakhstan capital.