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Merzouga Rally 2018 Official Teaser

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Leader Przygonski heads impressive entry for Rally Kazakhstan

- Former Dakar champion Luc Alphand to make second appearance in MINI Buggy

- Local Kazakh challenge headed by Abykayev, Shagirov and Chernenkov

- Two GAZelle NEXT trucks to take part in National event in Kazakhstan

 

The Automotorsport Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan (AMFK) has announced the entry list for the forthcoming Rally Kazakhstan and 28 FIA crews will tackle the fifth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies on May 27-June 2, in addition to four national entrants that include two official Team Kamaz Masters trucks and a pair of GAZelle NEXT trucks.

FIA World Cup leader Jakub Przygonski heads the entry in his X-raid MINI John Cooper Works Rally. The Pole faces a fierce challenge from team-mates Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Victor Khoroshavtev and a two-wheel drive MINI Buggy in the hands of the French 2006 Dakar winner Luc Alphand.

Russia’s Vladimir Vasilyev drives a MINI Countryman, while the defending FIA World Cup champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah will be aiming to bounce back from his recent disappointment at the Qatar Cross-Country Rally and win Rally Kazakhstan for a second time in a Toyota Hilux.

Czech driver Martin Prokop won this year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and currently holds second position in the championship. The former WRC star has entered his Ford F-150 Evo, while the likes of Ronan Chabot, Yasir Seaidan, Boris Gadasin and the PH Sport Peugeot 3008 DKR of England’s Harry Hunt add strength in depth to the top of the list of T1 entries.

The Central Asian challenge will be headed by 2016 rally winner Yuriy Sazonov and Yerden Shagirov in Mobilex Rally Team cars, while Russian drivers Andrey Rudskoy and Andrey Novikov will be pushing for a top five finish. Spaniard Fernando Alvarez and Germany’s Jürgen Schröder will also take part in a South Racing-run Volkswagen Amarok and Nissan Navara, respectively.

OFF-ROAD Kazakhstan’s Marat Abykayev shares his role as President of the AMFK to challenge for honours in the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles. He is sure to be embroiled in the battle between Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Al-Shegawi and Qatar’s Adel Abdulla, both of whom are challenging for the showroom class title this year. Aktau Motorsport’s Kirill Chernenkov, the winner of T2 at the Silk Way Rally last year, and Konstantin Ivanov strengthen the T2 category.

Three Polaris RXR 1000s, a Yamaha and a Can-Am Maverick X3 will scrap for T3 honours. Spaniard José Pena Campo heads the entry from Russia’s Ravil Maginov, Spain’s Santiago Navarro, Frenchman Patrice Garrouste and Kazakh Dmitry Pitulov.

Andrey Karginov and Alexander Sergey Kupriyanov will drive the two Team Kamaz Masters trucks. Karginov won the Dakar Rally alongside Andrey Mokeev and Igor Devyatkin in 2014 and the giant Dakar race vehicles are sure to be a spectacular sight crossing the Kazakh wilderness.

Rally officials have also confirmed that a pair of Russian-built GAZelle NEXT trucks will bolster the National Rally category under the GAZ Raid Sport banner.

The NEXT models are improved versions of the original Gazelle series of medium duty trucks produced by automotive giant GAZ that started production for the first time in 2013. The model is equipped with a four-cylinder turbo-diesel motor from Cummins. Road-going models are now built in Nizhny Novgorod in Russia and Sakarya in Turkey.

The first selective section of 280.35km heads out of Aktau City on Monday, May 28th. The event finishes back in the city on the shores of the Caspian Sea on Saturday, June 2nd, after six demanding stages across the remotest parts of western Kazakhstan.

Neil Perkins,


Marie-France Estenave pour MFE-Live.com

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