|Silk Way Rally: Overdrive Racing finishes with 5 Toyotas inside Top 10.|
Overdrive Racing-built Toyota Hiluxes finished with five of their six cars in the top 10 in the punishing seven-day "Silk Way Rally", which took place over seven days across the Russian wilderness and finished in the city of Astrakhan on Saturday.
The Russian crew of Evgeniy Firsov and Vadim Filatov led the way in a superb third overall to take the final podium position behind winner Jean-Louis Schlesser and second-placed Russian Vladimir Vasilyev.
Polish enduro riders Marek Dabrowski and Jacek Czachor teamed up together for the first time in an Overdrive Toyota and enjoyed their experience of cross-country rallying to confirm an excellent fourth overall in their Team Orlen-backed car.
The Kazakh crew of Bauyrzhan Issabayev and Stanilas Podolyanyuk finished sixth overall running under the Team Astana banner and Frenchman Jérôme Pelichet and co-driver Eugenie Decre were eighth. Also running under the Team Astana banner, Kazakh Aidyn Rakhimbayev and Gabdulla Ashimov reached the finish in Astrakhan in ninth overall.
Former Polish ski jumper Adam Malysz and co-driver Rafal Marton ran under the G1 Racing banner, but the Team Orlen driver lost a potential third placed finish after rolling his Toyota on the fifth stage.
“I am delighted that we are the first team to score five cars in the top 10 in the hardest rally after the Dakar,” said Overdrive team manager Jean-Marc Fortin. “It is further proof of our car’s reliability and the product itself. I am also delighted to have two cars in the top five. That proves that, even though are drivers don’t have the experience, the cars are able to do the rest.”
The first stage between Tambov and Vologograd was split into two competitive sections of 199.05km and 174.38km, including a passage through nature reserves and the Archeda dunes. Frenchman Phillipe Gache won the stage by 2min 49sec from Vladimir Vasilyev in the G-Force Proto, but it was a good start by the Overdrive Racing Toyotas.
Malysz led the way in fourth position, Rakhimbayev was fifth, Pelichet was seventh, Firsov was eighth and Dabrowski rounded off the top 10 on his debut with the team. “I really liked it,” said the Pole. “It was a lot of fun to be in the sand and the car was both powerful and agile.”
Vasilyev won the second Volgograd loop stage to take an outright lead from Gache of 3min 37sec and Malysz led the way for the Toyota contingent in sixth position, with Dabrowski in eighth and Firsov in 10th. This meant that Malysz, Firsov and Dabrowski held fifth, sixth and eighth in the general classification with Pelichet in 10th.
Stage three between Volgograd and Astrakhan offered 486.74km of competition along the Volga delta to the Caspian Sea. The special began at the Khazar Steppe and passed the Berguin and Scorpion Ergs in searing heat.
Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser won the stage and moved to within 8min 54sec of Gache at the top of the leader board, but it was a good performance from third-placed Malysz. “The heat made it very long and hard,” said the former ski jumping world champion. “I was so hot I could not rest my foot on the floorboard...”
Firsov was fifth in his Overdrive Racing Toyota. “I had the impression that we would never stop jumping and it was so hot that several teams stopped in the stage.” Dabrowski had to slow his pace with overheating issues and Rakhimbayev had to stop and make repairs after a crash. Malysz climbed to fourth in the general classification and Firsov and Issabayev were fifth and ninth.
The fourth stage meandered from Astrakhan to Elista and was shortened to 305km because of the crippling heat. It ran to the tiny independent Buddhist Republic of Kalmykia. Schlesser completed the stage and retained second place behind stage winner Vasilyev, but Gache stopped with gearbox problems.
Firsov claimed the second quickest time for the Overdrive team. “It was a perfect day for us,” said the Russian. “We were also quite lucky because, on one occasion, my co-driver Vadim (Filatov) forgot to give me notes and we made some impressive jumps.”
Malysz was fourth quickest, despite a navigational error, and Pelichet finished seventh, despite losing a tyre off a rim and having to take avoiding action to miss a cow. Dabrowski made it four Toyotas in the top eight with a solid finish. “We got stuck in the sand once and lost time with a small navigational mistake. I didn’t dare attack…”
The Overdrive Toyotas of Malysz, Firsov, Dabrowski and Issabayev began the fifth 499km stage from Elista to Astrakhan from third, fourth, eighth and ninth in the overall rankings. Schlesser trailed Vasilyev by a mere 19 seconds at the top of the leader board, but tricky navigation cost the Russian dearly and he dropped more than 25 minutes to the Frenchman, as Firsov finished the stage in second position.
“I was starting to feel really comfortable in the car,” said Firsov. “It was not easy to find the route. Several times we took the wrong track and we lost time in the dunes.”
There was disappointment for Malysz, who rolled his Toyota into retirement and lost third place. The day’s drama meant that Schlesser took an overall lead of 25min 26sec into the penultimate special and the Toyotas of Firsov, Dabrowski, Issabayev and Pelichet held third, fifth, eighth and 10th overall.
The penultimate stage features a 412km loop around Astrakhan with a mixture of dunes, sandy stages and steppes. Vasilyev set the fastest time and reduced Schlesser’s overall lead by 8min 17sec. Rakhimbayev led the five remaining Toyotas home in fourth position, with Firsov, Dabrowski, Pelichet and Issabayev in fifth, sixth, ninth and 11th positions.
A short 87.36km seventh section around Astrakhan brought teams to the finish of the event in Astrakhan on Saturday. Schlesser confirmed outright victory with the third quickest time and the Toyotas of Pelichet, Issabayev and Rakhimbayev were fifth, sixth and seventh, as the five surviving Toyota Hiluxes confirmed third, fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth in the overall standings after a demanding route of over 4,000km.
Silk Way Rally STAGE Cars - SS06 Saturday Top 10
01) Vasilyev/Yevtekhov (RUS/RUS) I G-Force Proto I 01:17:18
02) Schlesser/Zhiltov (F/RUS) I Schlesser Buggy I +00:36
03) Dmitriev/Demianenko (RUS/RUS) I BMW X6 Proto I +03:05
04) Pelichet/Decré (F/F) I Toyota Overdrive I +06:50
05) Issabayev/Podolyanyuk (RUS/RUS) I Toyota Overdrive I +07:00
06) Rakhimbayev/Ashimov (RUS/RUS) I Toyota Overdrive I +07:29
07) Lavieille/Polato (F/F) I Juke Dessoude I +07:57
08) Szalay/Bunkoczi (HU/HU) I Opel Mokka RR I +08:26
09) Firsov/Filatov (RUS/RUS) I BMW X6 Proto I +10:59
10) Savenko/Maltsev (RUS/RUS) I Nissan Navara I +11:54
Silk Way Rally OVERALL Cars - SS06 Saturday Top 10
01) Schlesser/Zhiltov (F/RUS) I Schlesser Buggy I 32:55:35
02) Vasilyev/Yevtekhov (RUS/RUS) I G-Force Proto I +16:33
03) Firsov/Filatov (RUS/RUS) I BMW X6 Proto I +01:47:33
04) Dabrowski/Czachor (PL/PL) I Toyota Overdrive I +04:06:01
05) Lavieille/Polato (F/F) I Juke Dessoude I +04:16:58
06) Issabayev/Poldol. (RUS/RUS) I Overdrive I +05:18:36
07) Savenko/Maltsev (RUS/RUS) I Nissan Navara I +05:33:24
08) Pelichet/Decré (F/F) I Toyota Overdrive I +07:45:14
09) Rakhimbayev/Ashimov (RUS/RUS) I Toyota Overdrive I +08:51:38
10) Cenkov/Marinov (RUS/RUS) I Opel Mokka RR I +08:57:15
2013/07/16 | 15:55 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PERKINS