Peugeot DKR Maxi had a commanding performance in its first competitive outing – the 2017 Silk Way Rally. Cyril Despres and David Castera took victory in the race with the car.
The Peugeot DKR Maxi featured a wider track that was 10 centimetres longer on each side, as well as other technical improvements that were being trialled on the Silk Way Rally, for the Dakar Rally next year. The three crews had mixed fortunes on the Silk Way Rally, But their Peugeot racing cars proved to be both fast and reliable. Introducing the Peugeot DKR Maxi, for its first competitive outing at Silk Way Rally, the Peugeot Sport engineers had the confirmation they needed that all their hard work had paid off. The technical evolutions are in the right direction, contributing to increased overall performance and giving the drivers added confidence.
— Peugeot Sport (@peugeotsport) July 22, 2017
Sebastien Loeb used it to lead the rally at an impressive pace for the first week, claiming four stage wins in total
With an advantage of more than an hour, Loeb crashed the day after the rest day in Urumqi while driving off the main track to avoid a rocky river bed. His car tripped over a drainage channel, damaging it badly. The team eventually repaired the Peugeot DKR Maxi, but Loeb sprained a finger and couldn’t continue. Despite this misfortune, the French duo gained more experience and know-how of tackling long distance events.
Following Loeb’s accident, Despres took over the lead, having driven faultlessly from start to finish. He only had two problems. Despres got stuck in a hole during the first week and became perched on a sand dune three days from the finish. But these were relatively minor issues that didn’t prevent him from leading the rally commandingly, to claim his second victory in cars, after a distinguished career on bikes.
Stephane Peterhansel, the winner of the Dakar Rally this year (and the most successful driver in Dakar history) had his chances of Silk Way Rally victory ruined in the first week
Then he lost two hours after an accident. Nonetheless, from the bottom of the overall classification, he fought back resiliently to claim a top-five finish. He set more fastest stage times on the Silk Way Rally than any other driver. Not only that, but Peterhansel performed a vital role as ‘guardian angel’ over Despres in the closing stages of the rally, helping his colleague to maintain his leadership by being on hand to assist in the event of any issues. This proved to be invaluable, with Despres able to drive securely in the knowledge that his team mate was on hand.
A Peugeot was in the lead after every one of the 13 days of the Silk Way Rally, courtesy of Loeb/Daniel Elena, Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret and Despres/Castera. In total, the Peugeot ‘Dream Team’ won ten stages, with seven one-two stage finishes, as well as two one-two- three stage finishes.
“As we expected – or perhaps even more than we expected – the Silk Way Rally took a huge toll on all the competitors, with two of our cars being caught out by accidents”, Peugeot Sport Director and Team Manager Bruno Famin commented
“And they were in good company because many other competitors faced the same problems. So, it was a very demanding rally but this is exactly what we were looking for, as we were looking for a challenge as we prepare our cars for the Dakar. In general, I was very happy not just with the pace but especially the reliability of our cars. Apart from a small power steering issue with Cyril, we had no major problems at all with any of the cars, which was very encouraging.”
“The Peugeot DKR Maxi seems to be an improvement anywhere, with no disadvantages that we can tell so far compared to the current car. Congratulations to Cyril Despres and David Castera, both of whom performed faultlessly throughout the length of the rally to claim their second win here. While Stephane Peterhansel is ‘Mr Dakar’, I think we can now safely say that Cyril Despres is ‘Mr Silk Way’!”
“It’s been a fantastic rally, a huge adventure, and I’m very happy to continue my progression as a car driver with another win here: on an event that I’m very fond of. To set off in Moscow and end up in China… it’s really an amazing event”, Despres added
“Throughout the whole of the rally neither myself nor David didn’t make any big mistakes, which was really the key to the victory, as well as having a reliable car. To be honest, I still think I have plenty to learn as a car driver; there’s still a gap in my speed compared to my team mates, which is something that I would like to make up. But I can see that I’m improving year on year, which is very motivating, as I know that the best is still to come. Now we look forward to the Dakar Rally, where we were third last year, so winning here is the best preparation.”
Peterhansel admitted he felt mixed emotions after the race
“On the one hand, for myself, I am disappointed as I am a competitor and so the only result that really interests me is winning! On the other hand, I am very happy for Cyril and the whole Peugeot team for another victory here, and I’m also pleased that we were able to carry out the job of assisting him. Over the course of the rally, we saw that the cars were quick and reliable and I think the Maxi is a step forward, although as Sébastien Loeb is such a fast driver, it’s hard to tell how much of the speed comes from him and how much comes from the car. In any case, it’s two years now that Cyril has won the Silk Way Rally and I have won the Dakar, so of course, I’ll be really happy if history repeats itself again!”
“The rally did not end the way we wanted it to for myself and Daniel, but I’m very happy for the whole Peugeot team and especially Cyril and David for this important victory”, was Loeb’s commentary
“It was also a great feeling to lead the event with a good margin during the first week, and I think the Maxi was a key factor in helping to achieve this, although it was more suited to certain stages than others. Now we will continue the development work, using all the important lessons we have learned from Silk Way, in preparation for the Dakar.”
— Peugeot Sport (@peugeotsport) July 22, 2017