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2017 SWR: Both MINI John Cooper Works Rally vehicles in the top 10

Menzies and Al-Rajhi ninth and tenth
14th and final stage cancelled
The Silk Way Rally began and ended for the X-raid Team with a major dose of bad luck. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) and Tom Colsoul (BEL) lost a lot of time on day two, thus dropping out of the contention for the top positions. For Bryce Menzies and Pete Mortensen (both USA), nearly the entire rally went very well and they were fighting for a position on the podium. On the penultimate day, however, they got stuck on a dune and lost many positions. Due to the adverse weather conditions, the organisers cancelled the final special stage. Consequently, with 13 stages contested, Menzies / Mortensen and their MINI John Cooper Works Rally secured ninth place and Al-Rajhi / Colsoul finished right behind them in 10th. Today, the competitors will only roll over the finish podium in Xi’an.

Menzies and Mortensen were able to match the pace of the front runners right from the start. On day seven, the pairing in the MINI John Cooper Works Rally even won the stage and seemed to be on the way to certainly secure a podium. The US-Americans temporarily held second position in the overall standings but the penultimate stage made an end to their dreams: with about 30 more kilometres to go, they got stuck on a dune. “We hit the ground with the centre of the car and the car-jacks just disappeared in the sand,” Menzies revealed. “We had to dig for nearly three hours until we got going again. A real pity as we were on the way to making it to the podium. But that’s racing and this kind of things can happen in the dunes. We have learned a lot in the past days.”

Taking a look at every stage for its own, the 2017 Silk Way Rally was a successful event for Al-Rajhi and Colsoul. But the pairing slipped into a deep hole on day two and needed two hours to get out of it. And to make things even worse, they received a two-hour time penalty for having exceeded the allowed maximum time for the special stage. Due to this incident the MINI John Cooper Works Rally pairing dropped back to the end of the field but on the following days they worked their way back up step by step. In the penultimate stage, however, they also got stuck in the soft sand. “The car hit the ground at once and the hydraulic car-jacks also got lost in the sand,” says Al-Rajhi. “We had to wait for 45 minutes until a truck came to tow us out. Our bad luck in the early stages that cost us our chance of securing a podium was really annoying. But I could keep on gathering experience and I’m happy that we made it to the top 10, in the end.”

On Friday, the Baja Aragon in Spain was started simultaneously to the end of the Silk Way Rally. There, the Trebur based team also is represented by two MINI John Cooper Works Rally pairings – Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) / Andreas Schulz (GER) and Jakub Przygonski (POL) / Xavier Panseri (FRA) – and Orlando Terranova (ARG) / Paulo Fiúza (POR) with a MINI ALL4 Racing. On Friday evening, the Baja was kicked off with a nine-kilometre special stage (Click here for live timing).

Overall standings after stage 14:
1. C. Despres (FRA) / D. Castera (FRA) Peugeot – 41h 46m 25s
2. C. Lavieille (FRA) / J.-P. Garcin (FRA) Baicmotor – 42h 51m 04s
3. W. Han (CHN) / L. Min (CHN) SMG Buggy – 42h 57m 54s
4. E. Amos (ITA) / S. Denaunay (FRA) Ford – 43h 58m 37s
5. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / J.-P. Cottret (FRA) Peugeot – 44h 23m 52s
9. B. Menzies (USA) / P. Mortensen (USA) MINI John Cooper Works Rally – 45h 52m 15s
10. Y. Al-Rajhi (KSA) / T. Colsoul (BEL) MINI John Cooper Works Rally – 47h 15m 44s

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