Fri, 07/07/2017 - 16:00
• Team Peugeot Total has successfully completed its final preparations: Silk Way Rally ceremonial start takes place tonight in Moscow’s famous Red Square
• Ahead lie 14 legs of action that will take competitors from Russia all the way to China, via Kazakhstan, on an epic 10,000-kilometre journey
• Three examples of the Peugeot DKR aim to showcase their performance, including next year’s Dakar prototype driven by Sebastien Loeb: the brand-new Peugeot DKR Maxi

The tension is mounting, as a highlight of tonight’s ceremonial start for the Silk Way Rally will be the appearance of the three Peugeot DKR cars on the ramp in Moscow’s famous Red Square.
While the cars driven by reigning Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel and last year’s Silk Way winner Cyril Despres are identical to the Peugeot DKR that locked out the podium on the Dakar Rally last January, Sebastien Loeb, by contrast, will give the brand-new Peugeot DKR Maxi – featuring a wider track and other technical improvements – its competition debut on one of the toughest off-road events in the world.
Silk Way Rally is an important fact-finding mission for Peugeot, but also an epic challenge in its own right – with the rally being even longer, and some of the terrain even more complex, than the stages seen on the Dakar itself. Even though Peugeot starts as favourite, the 78 Team Peugeot Total members are humble and simply focussed on achieving the best possible performance from every stage.
So far, the cars have passed scrutineering in the Loujniki Olympic Stadium, a mandatory check to confirm compliance with the regulations, and the co-drivers have begun to plot out of the route of tomorrow’s first proper day, which takes the crews from Moscow to Tcheboksary via a 61 kilometre special stage: if not too muddy, it should be a gentle warm-up compared to many of the mammoth sections to follow.
What’s next?
An enthusiastic crowd is expected in the heart of Moscow tonight, as the 2017 Silk Way Rally officially gets underway. And so the adventure begins… Saturday’s route takes competitors on a 572 kilometre road section to reach the 61 kilometre special stage, which is quite a fast one that runs between small plants and shrubs. In the middle it gets quite technical, giving the drivers a good opportunity to finalise the set-up.
Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport Director
After six months of preparation for this event, we now face the moment of truth as the cars go over the ramp. Our emotions are a mixture of excitement about the huge adventure that lies ahead of us and humble respect for the challenges that it will inevitably bring. The pre-event preparations and formalities have gone well, and we’ve been delighted to meet so many passionate fans in Moscow, but now our three talented crews are just waiting to get on with the driving. It won’t be long before the tortuous wait is over and we can start the business of gathering as much data and development information as possible across all three cars, while delivering our utmost efforts to try and achieve a repeat of the win that Cyril so spectacularly sealed last year.
Sebastien Loeb #104
“It’s a fresh start for us with a new car. Part of the learning process from last year inevitably came from making mistakes, and this year we will try to do a better job. Together with Peugeot Sport’s engineers, we will be working in parallel across the two specifications of car, so it’s going to be very interesting to compare the performance of our development car to the current Dakar-winning machine driven by Cyril and Stephane. The route of the Silk Way Rally is very varied and changes a lot as you go on: it really captures the spirit of rally raids. I’ve got some very nice memories of here from last year but I only have one key objective really, which is to get to the finish.”
Cyril Despres #100
“I’m absolutely delighted to be here and feel this fantastic atmosphere around the start. Of course, this place is special for me as we won last year for the first time in a car and that is exactly what I will attempt to do again. But it won’t be easy. As well as some strong rivals, we’ve also got a lot of competition within our own team. But it’s a very friendly and respectful rivalry: we all want to beat each other but we are very good friends too. I’m really happy with the set-up of my Peugeot DKR so we’re ready to go. I can’t wait to get started.”
Stephane Peterhansel #106
“Last year we had an accident that cost us the chance to fight for victory on this magnificent rally, so this year I would like to make up for that! Silk Way forms an extremely important part of our preparation for the Dakar, as we finalise the specification of the car and also reacclimatise ourselves to the physical and mental demands of long-distance endurance rallying. The terrain and the weather will be extremely hard to predict over the next couple of weeks, so the important thing is of course to always consider the bigger picture.”
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