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Silk Way #rally competitors reach midpoint 5,000km from Moscow.
The Chinese city of Urumqi sees the drivers take a day off on Sunday while the mechanics will be giving each car and truck still in the race a comprehensive tune up ahead of the event’s second week.
The car race leaders Sébastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena of Team Peugeot Total arrived in Urumqi in first, having controlled the #rally since the opening stages. The duo enjoy a lead of over an hour.
Loeb and Elena’s nine World #rally Championship titles transformed the pair into motorsport legends, now they’re proving they can be equally dominant at rally-raid events. Next up for the pair are the dunes of the Gobi Desert which separate their current location from the race’s finish line in Xi’an.
“We’re looking forward to the Rest Day here in Urumqi,” said Loeb. “We have some media commitments but we’ll also get a chance to relax before tackling the second half of the #rally.”
Loeb’s closest competitors are his Peugeot teammates Cyril Despres and co-driver David Castera. Despres has battled back for some missteps along the route and despite being nearly 70 minutes behind Loeb he knows from experience that anything can happen in the second week. The third Team Peugeot Total crew of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret are still in the fight for stage wins after recovering from rolling their car during the first few days of #racing.
While Loeb remains in the early stages of his rally-raid education he is joined on the overall podium by another newcomer to the discipline. American offroader Bryce Menzies has been going about his business with determination and was rewarded with a stage win on Friday. On Saturday, Menzies and co-driver Pete Mortensen opened the 436km route to Urumqi and cruised to a third place finish on the stage.
“Now we’re at the Rest Day and the body and mind definitely need it,” added Menzies.
The turnaround in the truck race by Team Kamaz Master after some disappointing early stages has been nothing short of remarkable. Stage wins are now being chalked up on a daily basis by the Russian team and it seems only a matter of time before they have three trucks parked on the overall podium. For now though Kamaz can reflect on a week of hard work and their reward at the Rest Day is having Dmitry Sotnikov in the outright lead.
“As we move closer to the desert things are going to keep getting hotter,” said Sotnikov. “This is going to have a big impact on the race and we’ll be working hard to ensure our team don’t suffer.”
For Loeb and Sotnikov the upcoming task is to protect those leads, for the chasing pack it’ll be about calculating risk on the road to Xi’an.
Find all images, Action Clips and News Cuts from the 2017 #silkwayrally here: redbullcontentpool.com/silkwayrally
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