Editorial Raid

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Morocco Desert Challenge 2019

MFE-Live.com - Actus du Silk Way Rally

Red Bull: On the slopes of the Silk Way

The long and arduous journey at the 2018 Silk Way Rally is continuing at top speed as the race enters the home straight. Five stages have now been contested over the deserts of Russia and there’s been no shortage of drama along the way.

Torrential rainstorms turned the marathon stage into a mud bath, with organisers eventually having to step in to cut short the planned route between Elista and Astrakhan.

Weather conditions have only added to the degree of difficultly experienced by race crews looking to get the better of this Eurasian offroad adventure.

Keeping their cool better than most has been the Russian truckers of Team Kamaz Master who hold all three podium spots going into the final two stages. Out in front are reigning Silk Way champ Dmitry Sotnikov and his team-mate Andrey Karginov. These two drivers have been leapfrogging each other for P1 on the route north through Russia.

“We’ve got to the finish line again and that really is the most important thing at these rallies.” – Dmitry Sotnikov

Lying in third is the Kamaz truck driven by Ayrat Mardeev. As a former winner of both the Silk Way and the Dakar Rally there’s always the chance that Mardeev could pass both his team-mates and take the chequered flag in Moscow on Friday.

Over in the car category the MINI of Yazeed Al-Rajhi of Saudi Arabia remains in pole position to take victory. Al-Rajhi is a fierce competitor and is on course to go one better than his runners-up result at the 2016 Silk Way this time around.

Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel are still fighting every step of the way. The former Dakar winners have had to deal with mechanical misfortune along the way, losing four-wheel drive on their Toyota Hilux for much of the race. They have dug deep though to sit third overall and a podium finish would represent a remarkable achievement for the pair.

“It’s so disappointing to get these problems when we’re pushing so hard to make up time we have already lost.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah

With close to 1,000 kilometres, spread over two stages, still to go until the finish line in Red Square we’re going to keep our eyes on the action to see how this one plays out.

Results
Car results after stage five – Top 3
1. Yazeed Al-Rahji (SAU)   MINI   19:04:32
2. Mathieu Serradori (FRA)   MCM   +01:14:07
3. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)   Toyota   +01:27:23

Truck results after stage five – Top 3
1. Andrey Karginov (RUS)   Kamaz   20:30:22
2. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS)   Kamaz   +00:05:16
2. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS)   Kamaz   +00:17:00
 
Quotes
Dmitry Sotnikov: "We’ve got to the finish line again and that really is the most important thing at these rallies. We’ve had a few problems along the way. On stage four we had to stop because of problems with the electrics and that’s when we saw we had a broken shock absorber and were losing water. We were able to quickly fix the shock absorber problem and then asked Andrey (Karginov) to stop and give us some water because it was very hot. We didn’t stop him for too long though."

Nasser Al-Attiyah: "We've had trouble shaking off this reoccurring problem with the rear differential. On a couple of stages it has stopped working after about 100 kilometres of racing. It’s not something you can repair when you're out on the stage so we have to carry on racing with just front-wheel drive. It’s so disappointing to get a problem like this when we’re pushing so hard to make up time we've already lost. Dealing with this has made the last few stages very tough to drive."

Christina Gaither,


Marie-France Estenave pour MFE-Live.com

Actus Raid - Silk Way Rally