Monday, July 15
The expansive sands of the Gobi Desert are having the final say at the 2019 Silk Way Rally. On the ninth stage there were plenty of ups and downs in the general classification. Now with just one stage remaining it’s now or never for the leading competitors to stake their claim for glory.
The leading car race crew of Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA)stand on the verge of history ahead of the final stage. They have set the fastest time on all eight timed stages at the 2019 Silk Way Rally. Already this puts the Toyota Hilux duo in a league of their own.
If Al-Attiyah and Baumel were to go quickest tomorrow, it’s unlikely their record of winning every stage at an international class event such as the Silk Way would ever be matched.
“We will give everything we have to win this rally and make sure we can celebrate in Dunhuang.”– Nasser Al-Attiyah
Get the racing line at the Silk Way Rally with our latest Dune Days VLOG here
There have been contrasting fortunes for the bikers of the Red Bull KTM Factory Team over these final stages in China. Bike race leader Sam Sunderland (GBR) recovered from his fall on yesterday’s stage to extend his advantage at the front of the race today.
2017 Dakar Rally winner Sunderland will be using all of his experience on tomorrow’s final stage to protect his 22-minute lead.
“There was a lot of broken and dangerous track today, it was a very physical day. I’m happy to get another day done, they saved the toughest for last that’s for sure.” – Sam Sunderland
Sunderland’s KTM team-mate Luciano Benavides (ARG) was hit with a five-minute penalty at the end of yesterday’s stage eight due to losing his timecard. Benavides is now over 10 minutes off a podium finish with just one stage remaining.
The third Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider at this edition of the Silk Way Rally is Laia Sanz (ESP). Sanz has been improving on every stage of the Silk Way and goes into tomorrow’s final stage standing seventh overall in the bike race.
“I will try to keep my position in the overall classification tomorrow. Today was another tough, tough day. I think it was even worse than yesterday.” – Laia Sanz
Teamwork was on display from the three leading truck crews of Kamaz on the penultimate stage. The tactics of Team Kamaz Master allowed race leader Anton Shibalov (RUS) to extend his overall lead with a stage win.
“It was a tough stage so we needed to concentrate on bringing our truck over the line. To win the stage was totally unexpected.” – Anton Shibalov
Shibalov was followed through the Gobi Desert by team-mates Andrey Karginov (RUS) and Ayrat Mardeev (RUS). Karginov remains second overall, one place ahead of Mardeev. Will Kamaz be celebrating a 1-2-3 result tomorrow in Dunhuang?
“We enjoyed our time in the dunes and all the offroad sections. Our purpose was to carry on towards the best result for the team.” – Ayrat Mardeev
Before the 2019 Silk Way Rally comes to an end all remaining competitors must tackle the 255-kilometre special stage between Jiayuguan and Dunhuang. A fast stage set among twisting roads and dry riverbeds could yet supply a sting in a tail.
Find all action footage, interviews, still images, news cuts, action clips and stories covering the 2019 Silk Way Rally here
You’re receiving this newsletter because you’re subscribed to the Red Bull Desert Wings newsletter, our distribution service for inside stories covering our Red Bull rally-raid athletes.
2019 Silk Way Rally: Stage 9 Results
Car: Top 3
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux 03:52:17
2. Wei Han (CHN)/Liao Min (CHN) SMG Buggy Buggy +00:09:12
3. Eric Van Loon (NLD)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Toyota Hilux +00:09:24
Bike: Top 3
1. Andrew Short (USA) Husqvarna 03:52:28
2. Paulo Goncalves (PRT) Hero +00:00:43
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA) Yamaha +00:01:45
Truck: Top 3
1. Anton Shibalov (RUS) Kamaz 04:03:15
2. Andrey Karginov (RUS) Kamaz +00:08:52
3. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) Kamaz +00:11:25
2019 Silk Way Rally: Overall Rankings after Stage 9
Car: Top 3
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux 21:57:59
2. Wei Han (CHN)/Liao Min (CHN) SMG Buggy +01:10:46
3. Jérome Pelichet (FRA)/Pascal Larroque (FRA) Optimus +01:39:43
Bike: Top 3
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 23:27:27
2. Andrew Short (USA) Husqvarna +00:22:51
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA) Yamaha +00:23:42
Truck: Top 3
1. Anton Shibalov (RUS) Kamaz 23:25:12
2. Andrey Karginov (RUS) Kamaz +00:24:48
3. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) Kamaz +00:37:29
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “It was another very difficult stage. Yesterday and today have been very interesting days. My body is getting so tired as we approach the end of the Silk Way Rally. Now we have just one more stage to go. We will give everything we have to win this rally and make sure we can celebrate in Dunhuang.”
Sam Sunderland: “After what happened yesterday I saw how quickly things can change so I just tried to manage things today. I had a little word with myself and worked out how I could afford to ride with a 25-minute gap at the front. There was a lot of broken and dangerous track today, it was a very physical day. I’m happy to get another day done, they saved the toughest for last that’s for sure.”
Luciano Benavides: “I’m happy with the job I have done so far at this rally. Yesterday I made an error that has cost me a position in the overall rankings. Without that I would be doing better. I’m learning so much all the time, and this problem yesterday was a big lesson to learn.”
Laia Sanz: “I will try to keep my position in the overall classification tomorrow. Today was another tough, tough day. I think it was even worse than yesterday. I got caught up in a fence at one point during today’s stage and that cost me some time. You needed to be really focused out there to stay out of trouble.”
Anton Shibalov: “The main aim for today was just to get to the finish line. It was a tough stage so we needed to concentrate on bringing our truck over the line. To win the stage was totally unexpected. This can happen in rally-raid though, you’re totally focused on your own race that you have no idea what speed the other guys are racing at.”
Ayrat Mardeev: “Everything was great for us today. We enjoyed our time in the dunes and all the offroad sections. Our purpose was to carry on towards the best result for the team. The truck is working great. We lost our way at one point, but nothing too bad.”
July 16 – Stage 10 – JIAYUGUAN to DUNHUANG