The 7th leg of the Silk Way Rally saw American Bryce Menzies of Mini Cooper win his first special.
This short transitional stage totaling 106 kilometres took racers from Urdzar, Kazakhstan over the border to Karamay in China.
Menzies finished ahead of defending champion Cyril Despres who trailed by 1 minute 37 seconds ending peugeot’s reign at the top, at least for now.
Menzies also out-ran overall leader Sebastien Loeb by 1 minute 37 seconds though the latter still has a comfortable margin of 1 hour 3mins and 35 seconds over Despres, his closest rival. There were no major losses or gains in stage 7 nor were there any significant surprises for the competition favourites.
SebastienLoeb</a> can win his 1st rally-raid champion or not in Xian next week, let's see~ <a href="https://twitter.com/silkwayrally">silkwayrally
peugeotsport</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SWR2017?src=hash">#SWR2017</a> <a href="https://t.co/9Ve5WUZxyk">pic.twitter.com/9Ve5WUZxyk</a></p>— Tommy Fei (feichao1) July 14, 2017
Baicmotor teammates Liu Yangui and Christian Lavieille finished 3 minutes 43 seconds and 3 minutes 53 seconds respectively behind the leader, leaving them in the top five of this leg.
In the trucks section, Ton VanGenugten was making good ground before a surprise and rather spectacular nose dive.
Otherwise Kamaz enjoyed a clean sweep with drivers in 1st to fourth positions.
Current leader Dmitry Sotnikov triumphed ahead of a string of fellow Russians. Anton Shibalov was 27 seconds behind him. Airat Mardeev crossed the finish line 1m04s after Shibalov followed by Eduard Nikolaev 18 seconds later.
Overall Sotnikov leads Shibalov by 2m39s, and Czech Martin Kolomy in currently in third.
The next stage will involve plenty of sand and even some dunes, with a 250 km special between Karamay and Urumqi before the rest day.