Thursday's stage, made hazardous for competitors by some particularly tricky navigation, saw the three Peugeot 3008 DKRs lock out the podium for the fourth time since the start of the 2017 Dakar Rally. The result has taken the three crews even further clear at the top of the leaderboard. Peterhansel/Cottret notched up their third stage victory of the event and are back in the lead, although the day's sporting news was marred by the accidental injury sustained by biker Simon Marcic.
Stage 10 of the 2017 Dakar Rally provided crews with more complex navigation which caused many of them to squander chunks of time as they endeavoured to trigger the Passage Control waypoints.
Meanwhile, Peterhansel/Cottret collided with a motorcycle competitor travelling in the opposite direction along a narrow trail. The 2016 winners stopped to provide the biker with assistance. Deeply affected by the incident, they stayed with him until the arrival at the scene of the medical helicopter approximately a quarter-of-an-hour after the accident. Once the minutes spent attending to the motorcyclist were subtracted from the French pair's time, they were accredited with their third fastest time of this year's event and they currently top the provisional standings by a margin of 5m50s. The rider, Simon Marcic, suffered an open tibia-fibula fracture.
Like the majority of their fellow competitors, Loeb/Elena fell foul to the day's challenging navigation. They got lost on several occasions and dropped time triggering certain Passage Control waypoints. They recovered brilliantly during the latter part of the stage, however, to post the day's second-fastest effort.
Despres/Castera did a solid job on the navigational front to round out Team Peugeot Total's one-two-three finish. No team orders have yet been issued.
TYPE OF TERRAIN: trial-like portions, tracks, water crossings
CONDITIONS: frequent difficult navigation
TEMPERATURE: between 23°C and 43°C
AVERAGE SPEED: 108kph
TOP SPEED: 186kph
CLASSIFICATION - LEG 10:
1. PETERHANSEL Stéphane (FRA) / COTTRET J-P. (FRA), PEUGEOT 3008 DKR, 4h47m0s
2. LOEB Sébastien (FRA) / ELENA Daniel (MON), PEUGEOT 3008 DKR, +7m28s
3. DESPRES Cyril (FRA) / David CASTERA (FRA), PEUGEOT 3008 DKR, +10m1s
4. AL RAHJI Yazeed (SAU) / GOTTSCHALK Timo (GER), Mini, +19m3s
5. TERRANOVA Orlando (ARG) / SCHULZ Andreas, Mini, +20m12s
PROVISIONAL STANDINGS AFTER LEG 10:
1. PETERHANSEL Stéphane (FRA) / COTTRET J-P. (FRA), PEUGEOT 3008 DKR, 24h58m43s
2. LOEB Sébastien (FRA) / ELENA Daniel (MON), PEUGEOT 3008 DKR, +5m50s
3. DESPRES Cyril (FRA) / David CASTERA (FRA), PEUGEOT 3008 DKR, +25m40s
4. ROMA Nani (ESP) / HARO Bravo (ESP), Toyota Hilux, +1h0m55s
5. DE VILLIERS Giniel (ZAF) / VON ZITZEWITZ Dirk (ZAF), Toyota Hilux, +1h42m54s
"The day turned out to be as complex as we had feared. We ended up securing another one-two-three finish but it was exactly the sort of run that could have tipped the other way. The stage was particularly long and hard and took the cars over some pretty improbable terrain. It was dangerous, as we saw when Stéphane Peterhansel collided with the biker Simon Marcic. I think the people behind the route went a little too far in their bid to locate the waypoints in some unlikely spots. It resulted in some dangerous situations and Stéphane and Jean-Paul were both deeply affected by what happened today. Thankfully, Simon Marcic's life is not in danger but I believe some thought needs to go into ensuring this sort of situation happens as rarely as possible. As far as the fight for the win is concerned, Stéphane is now six minutes clear of Sébastien. They were both really very fast today, with Stéphane especially quick to begin with, and Sébastien setting the pace towards the end. The early part of Friday's stage looks like it could be complicated as well. With a couple of hundred kilometres still to come, I think we can let the two of them get on with their battle. They've been having fun, although their pleasure was obviously spoiled by today's accident."
Stéphane Peterhansel (Peugeot 3008 DKR #300)
Leg 10: 1st / Overall: 1st
"It was tough today. The navigation was very difficult and everyone kept getting lost in the maze of dry river beds. At one point, we were lost, and so was a biker who we came across travelling in the opposite direction. He just appeared from behind a bush and I instantly braked as hard as I could. He did too but, in doing so, he fell and we collided with him and he ended up underneath the car. We got out and saw that he was conscious but he appeared to have a broken leg. We stayed with him until the arrival of the medical helicopter. Once we got going again, we had trouble focusing and finding a decent pace. Happily, we didn't lose our way as much as the others and we ended up having a good run. The time we spent with the motorcyclist was taken into account at the finish and we were eventually accredited with the fastest time. We're back in the lead now, so that's a welcome development with just two more days to go."
Sébastien Loeb (Peugeot 3008 DKR #309)
Leg 10: 2nd / Overall: 2nd
"We got lost three or four times. We dropped into a small valley but then realised it wasn't the right route. We lost time in several places. It was quite hazardous and not much fun. Certain waypoints forced us to drive over terrain that wasn't really suited to this type of car. It was even impossible in places. We went much better over the second part of the stage. We're still in the fight and anything can still happen. Unless Stéphane hits trouble, though, it won't be easy, especially as tomorrow's stage kicks off with some more off-road driving."
Cyril Despres (Peugeot 3008 DKR #307)
Leg 10: 3rd / Overall: 3rd
"The cancellation of Wednesday's stage upset our recent rhythm a little bit. Even so, we still managed to push reasonably hard to begin with today. We had a feeling it would be a complex job finding the right headings and spotting the correct places to climb out of certain dry river beds. David did a first-class job on the early part of the stage. After that, I didn't push as hard as my team-mates and we ended up dropping a little ground to them."