Sebastien Loeb is out of the Silk Way Rally after crashing his Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi. The flying Frenchman was sitting pretty at the front of the pack, but an incident with a drain has forced him to abandon his campaign due to injury. Although it's a shame, his exit opens up the race to the chasing pack.
Loeb's race came to a grinding halt 82 km (51 mi) into Stage 9 of the Silk Way Rally. The 3008DKR Maxi suffered serious damage after slamming into a drain near a river bed. Loeb and his co-driver, Daniel Elena, made running repairs at the scene of the accident, and again after trying to rejoin the stage.
Having reached the second stage checkpoint, Loeb and Elena left the prescribed race route and took an asphalt road to the next rest stop – or bivouac, in Silk Way speak. Although the engineers at Peugeot Sport say they could have repaired the car, Loeb suffered a severely sprained left index finger, meaning he couldn't hold the steering wheel anymore. As a result, the 3008DKR Maxi has been pulled out of the race.
"There was hole that I didn't see, so we hit the inside, and we broke some parts on the front of the car," says Sebastien Loeb. "We made few stops to repair the car to be able to continue, and eventually needed the help of the assistance truck. We couldn't finish the stage because the night was coming. It was a long day. I have a sprained wrist, and I do not feel that great. So I am not able to continue driving as I can't actually hold the steering wheel properly anymore. I know though that Team Peugeot Total would have been able to fix the car. Once again I had a really good feeling with the Peugeot DKR Maxi, which is performing well, and I am sure that this is the car we need to tackle the Dakar next year."
His exit from the race leaves Cyril Despres (Peugeot 3008DKR) in the lead, followed by Wei Han in his Geely SMG Buggy. The rally concludes on July 22 in Xi'an, China.