Silkway Rally 2018 Day 4: One second separates Al Rajhi and Serradori as Al- Attiyah and Hunt loose time
The Frenchman Mathieu Serradori (Buggy SRT n°108) has won the 4th stage of the 2018 SILK WAY RALLY barely 1 second ahead Yazeed Al Rajhi (MINI John Cooper Works n°103). Victims of mechanical problems, Harry Hunt (Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi n°107) and Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Hilux n°101) have both given away considerable time in the overall car classifications, with Al Rajhi now the new leader. In the trucks, Andrei Karginov (Kamaz-Master n°309), beat the Dutchman Van Den Brink (Renault Sherpa n°304) by less than one minute. Running into mechanical difficulties, Dmitry Sotnikov (Kamaz-Master n°300) nevertheless holds on to the overall lead. Tomorrow the SILK WAY RALLY starts its long route along the Volga, direction Moscow, for the last three stages of this 2018 edition.
Cars : Bad luck for the leaders!
Just one tiny second: at the end of 366km of combat that was all that separated Mathieu Serradori (Buggy SRT n°108), the day’s winner, from Yazeed Al Rajhi (MINI John Cooper Works n°103).
An incredible battle that the two drivers engaged in on the special stage around Astrakhan. After having passed the MINI of Roma and then that Al Rajhi, the French driver and his Belgium navigator Fabian Lurquin opened the piste flat out to finish neck and neck with their sparring partners at the finish line. Nani Roma (MINI John Cooper Works n°104) completed the day’s podium.
If everything went well for these three, the day’s stage turned into a nightmare for the two other challengers. Starting first this morning, the overnight leader Harry Hunt (Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi n°107) suffered first from suspension problems and then with oil pressure. Twice forced to wait for his rapid assistance truck, the British driver has given away several hours. Starting 26th this morning, Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Hilux n°101) looked all set to pull back time before being forced to stop once again at km 200 due to problems with his rear differential. All of which played into the hands of Yazeed Al Rajhi, who at race mid-way point takes the overall lead 46 minutes ahead of Serradori, while Al-Attiyah, third, is now 56 minutes behind.
T2: Nifontova and Opariina pull back
Losing time in yesterday’s difficult conditions, Anastasia Nifontova (Toyota LandCruiser n°132) managed to pull back today to shore up her position as leader of the T2 category. The ex-motorcycle champion posted her 3rd stage victory today ahead of the Toyotas of the Chinese competitors Zi Yun Gang and Lu Binglong, who complete the provisional overall podium at the mid-way point. By beating the Bulgarian Cenkov (Quaddy Yxz n°130) and the Frenchman Chavigny (Polaris RZR n°126), Mariia Opariina (Maverick X3 n°115) took back the lead off the men in the T3 category.
Trucks: The Mammoet beaten at the final sprint
He was so happy. Taking a break with his 16 year old son, with whom he is sharing the cab of his Renault Sherpa for the first time, the team Mammoet Rally Sport driver, Martin Van Den Brink thought he’s won the fourth stage. On seeing the Kamaz of Andrei Karginov (n°309) arrive at the finish line the Dutchman needed to take only a quick look at his watch to understand. For less than one minute the Russian driver had pulled the rug from out under his feet. The reason for the Russian’s charge: he’d seen his team mate and the overall leader Dmitry Sotnikov (Kamaz-Master n°300), stopped at the side of the track. Karginov didn’t manage to take the overall lead but he did win the stage and by retaking his 2nd place overall has reignited the truck race. Running into problems with a shock absorber, his electrics and a water hose, Sotnikov was indeed in big trouble. But the crew managed to sort themselves out in record time and finally lost only 20 minutes. Sixth on the stage, Sotnikov holds on to the lead in front of his team mates Karginov and Mardeev who ran into problems with his turbo right at the beginning of the special. Finally the race directors have noted with regret the withdrawal of the MAZ Sport Auto team, following a racing incident on Tuesday’s stage 3 between Elista and Astrakhan.
Today: Stage 5 - ASTRAKHAN-VOLGOGRAD : “Rolling river” - 537,88 km
This 5th stage (537 kms) between Astrakhan and Volgograd (previously Stalingrad) will follow the Volga for the longest special stage of this 2018 edition of the SILK WAY RALLY. The competitors will discover similar conditions to the start of the race (sandy tracks, sometimes fast, sometimes bumpy) over the first third of the route. Then harder tracks will follow, winding through denser vegetation and between fields. Care will need to be taken with holes at the side of the track. Towards the end the tracks will become narrower as its runs into valleys.