Video: Vladimir Vasilyev wins stage four of Silk Way Rally
Vladimir Vasilyev won Stage 4 of the Silk Way Rally to take over at the top of the overall Auto classification.
Another Russian, Anton Shibalov came home first in the Truck category.
Stage four of the Silk Way Rally was supposed to have taken the competitors over a near 600 kilometre route from Astrakhan on the shores of the Caspian Sea towards Elista.
However, due to the continuing heatwave in the region, organisers brought the finish line forward to the second checkpoint.
In the car category, the French pairing of Philippe Gache and Jean-Pierre Garcin held an eight minute lead over compatriot Jean-Louis Schlesser and Russian co-driver Konstantin Zhiltsov overnight.
But Gache suffered garbox failure 184 kilometres in and plummeted down the rankings.
Vladimir Vasilyev raced through to take the stage, covering the distance in 3 hours 42 minutes and 50 seconds, more than five minutes quicker than Evgeniy Firsov and almost eight minutes clear of Andrey Dimitriev, as Russia swept the top three places.
That allowed Vasilyev to take over at the top of the Auto leaderboard, and he’ll carry a narrow nineteen second advantage over Schlesser into Thursday’s fifth stage.
There were also several changes at the top of the Truck standings.
Russia’s Edouard Nikolaev was given a time penalty of two hours twenty minutes by the organisers for an infringement committed on Tuesday, leaving Ayrat Mardeev as the new leader, ahead of Siarhey Viazovich of Belarus.
Anton Shibalov came home first for Russia in 3 hours, 41 minutes and 51 seconds, almost four minutes ahead of Czech driver Ales Loprais and more than eleven minutes quicker than another Russian, Eduard Nikolaev.
Mardeev completed the course in fourth, a full 12 minutes behind Shibalov, but he now has a comfortable lead of 67 minutes over Shibalov, with Dmitry Sotnikov lying third, an hour and 25 minutes off the pace.