On this challenging SS12 for the cars, Peugeot managed the situation perfectly to defend its lead. With two stages remaining, Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz and Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret still occupy the first two places overall. The goal of Peterhansel and Cottret was to manage their advantage over Toyota´s Nasser Al Attiyah. After completing this long test, the crew is still 21 minutes ahead of 3rd place in the overall standings.
"We’re not thinking about the overall victory," said Peterhansel after the stage. "It is important to keep this second place and to manage the gap to our main pursuer. We lost some time to them, but by staying in front of them all day we were able to control the race. Overall, we are happy to finish this long stage. The navigation was complicated, with some very tricky parts as well as magnificent scenery. There were also some tracks similar to WRC stages which were very nice to drive."
Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz adopted a cautious pace to avoid any problems. The Spanish duo had a slightly more hectic second half of the stage (due to a gear selection problem) but he finished 9th and remains comfortably in the overall lead, 44 minutes ahead of his team-mates.
"It was a really difficult stage," said Carlos Sainz. "We were cautious in the first part of the stage, and we had to stop in the second part. I had a slight physical problem and had to take a brief break. We set off again and then got a puncture. Cyril and David gave us a hand to finish changing the wheel: Thank you to them for that. At the end of stage we were stuck in third gear, but fortunately we were able to finish the stage!"
After Wednesday's stage, where their starting position had given them the opportunity to drive at their own pace, Cyril Despres and David Castera waited for their team-mates in order to take up their role as 'guardian angels'. They recorded the tenth best time: Not fully representative of their potential.
"It's never easy to spend a whole day in the dust," reported Cyril Despres. "We had a day of teamwork. We have nothing left to play for so we stayed behind Carlos. You don’t see as much of the the scenery and it’s harder to see the danger, so you have to be very careful. Physically, it starts to take it out of you a little bit. We helped Carlos and Lucas to change a wheel, we played the role of Peugeot Assistance."
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