Peterhansel and Monleon snatch stage wins to close in on outright victories in China Silk Road Rally

Picture DPPI

DUNHUANG (CHINA):  Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel and Spaniard Armand Monleón Hernandez won the 12th special stage at the China Silk Road Rally on Thursday and both are now just one day away from claiming outright victories in their respective car and motorcycle categories.

Peterhansel and navigator Jean-Paul Cottret secured their seventh stage win of the campaign in the Team Peugeot Total 2008 DKR and take a lead of 33min 14sec over team-mates, Cyril Despres and David Castera, into the final stage on Friday. Despres was first on the road after Wednesday’s stage win but lost time with a flat tyre.

“We had a good day,” enthused Peterhansel. “We passed Cyril around kilometre 60 at a cross and then we had no problems. The last 20km in the canyon was beautiful and wide. You can drive safely, because it was sandy and not dangerous for the tyres.”

Monleón recovered his composure after a collision with a police car on the stage on Wednesday to also claim his seventh stage win of this year’s rally. The Red Bull KTM 450 Rally rider now heads into the final Dunhuang loop stage with a lead over Jincheng’s Su Wen Min of 31min 58sec. 

“I broke the cable of the throttle 10km from the finish,” said Su Wen Min, who had to hold the cable in his hand to reach the stage finish. “That was my luck! It was a very beautiful stage. I tried to enjoy the landscape and not make any mistakes.”

The penultimate 161.75km selective section started at Suo Yang Cheng and finished in Hanxia, before teams returned to the Dunhuang bivouac via a liaison of 66.35km. 

Lui Kun recorded the second quickest time in the car category at the helm of his Mitsubishi Panda MPR11, although the Chinese remains in fifth place behind the factory Peugeots and the Havals of Han Wei and Christian Lavieille. 

“We made a little difference on Han Wei,” said Lavieille, who won the China Grand Rally in 2014. “No problems. The stage was fast and less difficult than last year. There were less deep ditches and ruts. We were nearly one hour faster than last year!”

In the motorcycle category, Zhao Hong Yi retained a distant third overall on his KTM 450 Rally, Zhou Tien is fourth on the second of the Jinchengs and Hu Ai Dong retains fifth place and is comfortably the leading quad rider on his Bombardier 1000. 

Amateur rider Li Haiping began the day in seventh overall on his Yamaha WR450F but has been working on the motorcycle himself at the bivouac. “My service car is broken, so I do all the work by myself,” said the Chinese. “I broke my mousse after 40km and I had to ride the rest of the way with a flat tyre. Now I must repair it...”

Zhang Guoyu and Sebastien Delaunay began the day in 18th overall and continue to lead the T3 category in their Polaris 900. The Chinese-French duo started the stage with an overall advantage of 1hr 12min 07sec over the all-Chinese Polaris 900 crew of Liu Hailong and Zhang Jianfeng. Their rivals started the stage in 20th overall. 

Leonidas Marmolejo and Maximiliano Blanco set out into SS12 in 26th position in their 4WD Jaton Racing Team Toyota Hilux and the Australian pairing of Adrian Di Lallo and Harry Suzuki started the special from 36th in the Red Earth Motorsport Isuzu MU-X. 

“We were flying - literally,” said Di Lallo after today’s stage. “There were many un-noted gutters appearing out of nowhere, one of which caused us to fly through the air in a nose-scraping moment. The stage was a real car buster, so we eased back where we needed to and passed several cars as we got the opportunity.

“The stage started off in fast, flowing hard-packed tracks and then got really gnarly and rutted through river beds for another 50km, before opening up into high speed sand tracks on a run up to a mountain range. The last section was a nice run along a canyon wall followed by a winding river bed run on the canyon floor.”

The rally is being organised by the China Silk Road Rally Auto Sports Management Company Limited, in association with CCTV Sports and Entertainment Company Ltd. and the Beijing Motorsports Development Company, with the full cooperation of the Federation of Automobile Sports of China (FASC) and the support of the sporting bureaux of several Chinese regions.

Tomorrow (Friday), is the final day of the 2015 China Silk Way Rally and features a short loop around Dunhuang, before the ceremonial finish and prize giving.  

A liaison of 7.88km takes competitors to the start of the 13th 222.42km selective section at Dang He. The competitive action again finishes at Hanxia and a liaison of 66.35km returns the finishers to Dunhuang. 


 2015 China Silk Road Rally – positions on SS12 (Cars):

1 Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Peugeot  1hr 31min 34sec
2 Lui Kun (CHN)/Liao Min (CHN) Mitsubishi Panda MPR11 1hr 35min 49sec
3 Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Garcin (FRA) Haval 1hr 35min 56sec
4 Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) Peugeot 2008 DKR 1hr 37min 44sec
5 Han Wei (CHN)/Pan Hong Yu (CHN) Haval 1hr 38min 43sec

2015 China Silk Road Rally – positions on SS12 (Bikes):

1 Armand Monleón Hernandez (ESP) KTM 450 Rally 1hr 48min 52sec
2 Su Wen Min (CHN) Jincheng 450Y Rally 1hr 55min 08sec
3 Zhao Hong Yi (CHN) KTM 450 Rally 2hr 01min 08sec
4 Zhou Tien (CHN) Jincheng 450Y Rally 2hr 05min 55sec
5 Hu Ai Dong (CHN) Bombardier 1000 2hr 09min 50sec

2015 China Silk Road Rally – overall positions after SS12 (Cars):

1 Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Peugeot  21hr 01min 39sec
2 Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) Peugeot 2008 DKR 21hr 34min 53sec
3 Han Wei (CHN)/Pan Hong Yu (CHN) Haval 21hr 52min 15sec
4 Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Garcin (FRA) Haval 21hr 58min 53sec
5 Lui Kun (CHN)/Liao Min (CHN) Mitsubishi Pajero MPR11 22hr 21min 28sec

2015 China Silk Road Rally – overall positions after SS12 (Bikes):

1 Armand Monleón Hernandez (ESP) KTM 450 Rally 26hr 00min 16sec
2 Su Wen Min (CHN) Jincheng 450Y Rally 26hr 32min 14sec
3 Zhao Hong Yi (CHN) KTM 450 Rally 29hr 09min 04sec
4 Zhou Tien (CHN) Jincheng 450Y Rally 29hr 57min 26sec
5 Hu Ai Dong (CHN) Bombardier 1000 30hr 32min 15sec