|Silk Way Rally: Difficult conditions for X-raid on opening leg of Russian event.|
The X-raid Team endured mixed fortunes on the opening leg of the Silk Way Rally between Moscow and Lipetsk on Sunday. Poland’s Krzysztof Holowczyc and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin finished the stage in second position in their BMW X3 CC and Russian team-mates Alexander Mironenko and Sergey Lebedev recorded the ninth fastest time in a second BMW X3CC.
Electrical problems troubled the MINI All4 Racing of the French duo of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret and they finished the stage down in an unofficial 68th position. Heavy rain had soaked almost the entire 261km of the route of the day’s stage between Moscow and Lipetsk and muddy conditions prevailed.
Holowczyc finished the timed section 3 min 13 sec behind the winning Russian Aleksandre Zheludov. "It was incredibly slippery. We also had a puncture and had to stop twice to take the grass out of the radiator grille," said the Pole.
For Mironenko, it was a good debut in the rally with the X-raid team. "It was downright slippery and again it was raining incredibly hard," said the Russian. "Without the rain I'm sure I would have arrived two or three places further forward."
Peterhansel was slowed around 40 kilometers after the start with electronic problems. The Frenchman had to stop twice and could not attack for the rest of the stage. He finished an unofficial 68th in the rankings.
"At the beginning it was very good, but we had to stop at kilometre 43," said Peterhansel. "We tried to solve the problem. But eventually we had no alternative but to drive slowly to the finish. The stage itself was not easy, because the grip changed continuously.
"We still do not know exactly where the problem came from. We assume, however, a problem with the electronics. But it’s better for us to have those difficulties here and not on the Dakar," admitted Monster Energy X-raid team boss Sven Quandt. "On the other hand, I must say that the Mini All4 Racing has never before driven in these conditions. Our vehicles have not been designed for this amount of mud."
Today (Monday) will be the longest stage for the participants in the Silk Way Rally. The day starts with a liaison of 364km, before crews tackle 484km against the clock. A short 2km liaison takes teams to the bivouac. The start of the stage is believed to be over fast, wide tracks before the terrain becomes sandier with a few dunes.
2011/07/11 | 15:44 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/QUANDT