Loeb pulls out of Silk Way Rally after crash
Italy’s Eugenio Amos was the surprise car class winner on stage 10 of the Silk Way Rally as Sébastien Loeb failed to take the start following an injury sustained after crashing on the previous stage.
The day's result means Cyril Despres, taking over from Loeb as event leader, boasts a sizeable lead after more than 30 hours of racing. The Frenchman in his Peugeot 3008 DKR has a 47-minute advantage over closest challenger Han Wei, of China.
It was not all plain sailing for Despres, who had been leading throughout the stage but a navigation error cost him the stage win and potentially precious minutes to finish fourth after nearly three-and-a-half hours on the course and 2 minutes and 20 seconds behind Amos.
Despres' cause was helped when Stéphane Peterhansel pulled over to guide him back onto the route.
Amos, despite driving the buggy of Carlos Sainz from the 2014 Dakar Rally, had not been expected to cause a stir among the big names as a “gentleman” driver on the route and had tears streaming down his cheeks following the surprise stage success.
It was a strong day for the Mini John Cooper Works Rally team, who took the podium courtesy of Yazeed Alrajhi in second and third-placed Bryce Menzies.
Loeb, meanwhile, explained the reason for his withdrawal: “My finger is hurting, I can no longer hold the steering wheel and I don’t feel very well. I won’t be able to continue the race like this.”
The result moved Despres from second to replace Loeb at the top of the time sheets, the Frenchman saying: “It was interesting to start the race in a different skin – the skin of the leader. Yesterday, we were second and trying not to make mistakes on the front ror.
“Today the pace wasn’t exceptional but 40 kilometres from the finish line David [Castera, his co-driver] made a small mistake, took the wrong track and got lost.
“Luckily Stéphane was behind and so we worked where we were.”
In the truck class, Dmitry Sotnikov slightly extended his lead over Kamaz team-mates Anton Shibalov and Airat Mardeev as Eduard Nikolaev took the stage following a Martin Kolomy puncture.