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Silk Way Rally: Ales Loprais finishes 3rd overall.

The concluding stage of Silk Way rally included only a 24-kilometre special, which did not count into the overall ranking. However, it could have fatal consequences to the overall ranking after the heavy jump-crash of Gerard de Rooy...

The special was started personally by three presidents of the three hosting countries, Medvedev, Nazarbayev and Berdimuhamedov. The special should have been rather a social event with no impact to the overall ranking. For security reasons, the final two specials in the desert of Karakoum were abandoned as the meeting of the president in Turkmenbashi was judged as a safer one.

Ales Loprais started the special two minutes past his contender, fellow competitor and friend, Gerard de Rooy. After some time, Gerard overlooked a huge jump. Ales continues: "Gerard's truck suddenly jumped some four metres above the ground and his rear leaf spring broke. Gerard was the only one injured in the cab. He opened the door and fell out of the cab on the ground. It was clear he had some spine injuries. We were following him closely at full throttle and stopped immediately to provide him some first aid. We called for a rescue helicopter but it took at least 30 minutes to arrive. We helped him get aboard and continued to the finish of the special with the rest of Gerard's crew. A few moments ago, Gerard sent me an SMS from the airport. he is being airlifted to the Dutch clinic and his injuries should not be too serious. He gave us many thanks."

As clear, in offroad marathons nothing is clear until the finish line. In spite of that, there are values ranked above all chase for stage victories: "I am glad that at least this is the outcome. We fight for every second on the race track but nothing can replace life and health. I hope Gerard will be OK soon and we all are looking forward to meeting in Buenos Aires at the next South American Dakar."

After all, Gerard de Rooy remains in the overall ranking although his complete crew could not make it to the finish line. "He diserves it, he was really second in real stages. Too bad for thisĀ conclusion after a beautiful and harsh rally. What I am really pleased with is the fact we could hold the pace not only with de Rooy but also with Kamaz trucks. It's a pity we had those three technical delays but at least this is another encouragement for all our future endeavors," Ales concludes.

2009/09/14 | 11:58 CET | Editor: MR/Jiri Vintr/Rita Konya

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