|Silk Way Rally: Triple-win for X-raid and Kamaz-Mardeev takes the honours.|
Two stages into the race, the Pole Krzysztof Holowczyc already led the car general classification with a comfortable margin, but now he has consolidated his position by taking his first scratch at the Silk Way Rally. Keeping a consistent pace, like always, the Pole benefitted from a careless "mistake" by teammate Stéphane Peterhansel, who was opening the route.
"Peter" ended up posting the 2nd best time, ahead of Russian Alexander Zheludov. Young Russian Ayrat Mardeev claimed the win in the truck category, in a stage which was marked by Czech Ales Loprais' outstanding pace... before a big navigational mistake in the final part of the special ended up costing him the stage win.
"Carelessness" does not go away with experience! Today, Stéphane Peterhansel illustrated this point yet again during the 3rd stage of the Silk Way Rally, when he lost about seven minutes for failing to look at his rear-view mirrors. The nine-time Dakar champion was opening the trail today and got stuck in the sand 244 km into the stage. No big deal, he just needed to reverse and get back underway with a minimal time loss.
But while he was hurriedly reversing, the man in the Mini failed to notice a large tuft of camel grass, upon which the Mini climbed, causing its front and rear wheels to lose contact with the ground! The crew of car 100 had no choice but to get out of the vehicle, deploy the sand ladders and work hard for a while before the car was ready to get going again.
His teammate Krzysztof Holowczyc (BMW X3CC) took perfect advantage of this godsend. After setting off on today's 432-km-long stage right after the Frenchman, the Pole saw "Peter" having a hard time and was able to avoid falling in the same trap. This netted him his first stage win in this race and represents a leap forward towards winning the general classification, which he now leads with 01:27:42 hours over the second-placed driver, Alexander Mironenko (BMW X3CC). The 3rd driver in the general classification, Alexander Zheludov (Nissan Navara), lies 02:05:24 back. He is just under six minutes ahead of Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel (Mini).
The 3rd stage was also marked by several small navigational mistakes made by Buggy-leader Christian Lavieille (Dessoude Buggy), who held the 3rd place in the general classification when he left Volgograd this morning but lost over 1:25 hours during today's stage.
On the other hand, today was a good day for Frenchman Ronan Chabot (SMG Gache Buggy), who finished 1st in the two-wheel drive category, 37:21 minutes back from the winner; and Belgian Stéphane Henrard (VW), who finished just after him, 44:25 back from Holowczyc. The German pairing and Dakar-winner Kahle/Schunemann had to retire after a broken engine of their French SMG Gache Buggy.
In the truck category, Ilgizar Mardeev's son Ayrat (Kamaz) was the nice surprise of today's stage. He took his first stage win in a big international competition, beating his teammate, "mentor" and fellow Russian Firdaus Kabirov (Kamaz).
The 3rd best time in today's stage was posted by Dutchman Hans Stacey (Iveco), 10:28 back. Ales Loprais (Tatra) had the most disappointing performance of the 3rd stage. After leading the special with a margin of over 7 minutes at CP2, the Czech made a big navigational mistake towards the end of the stage, which ended up costing him more than 25 minutes.
Of course, the 2009 champion still leads the general classification, but his margin has now increased to 41:31 minutes over his teammate and fellow Russian Andrey Karginov (Kamaz), and 58:59 mins over Dutchman Hans Stacey (Iveco). Ales Loprais was the big loser of the day and now lies 01:02:37 back from the leader of the race.
Tomorrow (Wednesday), crews will tackle a 400km loop stage around Astrakhan. Fast tracks will again be part and parcel of the special, which also includes 45km in sand dunes and a return to faster tracks for the final 60 kilometers.
2011/07/12 | 18:46 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/SZÈKELY-NAGY