Thursday, July 13
Team Kamaz Master have shot to the top of the 2017 Silk Way Rally truck race as they sliced through the opposition on the muddy routes of Kazahkstan. The Russian team made a slow start to the contest but are now operating at “full gas” with back-to-back stage wins to celebrate.
After struggling for grip on the opening stages in their native Russia there’s no denying that momentum is now behind Kamaz. Dmitry Sotnikov’s win on Stage 5 was followed up by Eduard Nikolaev recording today’s quickest time. These displays of precise aggression have put Sotnikov in the overall lead while team-mates Anton Shiblov, Ayrat Mardeev and Nikolaev have also enjoyed a recent surge up the rankings.
“The stage between Astana and Semey was foot to the floor racing and we just tried to keep our truck as straight as possible.” – Dmitry Sotnikov
In the car race Sébastien Loeb currently enjoys a lead of over one hour from Peugeot team-mate Cyril Despres. While bumps in the road have beset his competitors, Loeb has managed to keep the nose of his Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi relatively clean. As a result the nine-time WRC winner has a significant cushion at the head of the general classification.
However, Loeb is fully aware that rally-raid is an unpredictable business and reminders of this have come close to home at this Silk Way. Second placed Despres needed to be pulled from a ditch by a passing Kamaz truck on a previous stage while fellow Peugeot driver Stéphane Peterhansel saw his hopes of winning fade away after rolling his car on Stage 4. To their credit both Despres and Peterhansel have been able to quickly put these setbacks behind them with victories on subsequent stages.
“The tracks we’ve been driving on have this tough grass over two metres tall. When you’re the first car on the stage this means you smash down the grass and create a path for those following you.” – Cyril Despres
Bryce Menzies is another driver who has found himself in the thick of the action. The American has parked his Mini in third overall as he participates in his first two-week rally-raid. Menzies is so far on course to reach his pre-race goal of completing the rally but with China’s Gobi Desert still to navigate nobody is taking anything for granted just yet.
“We enter China tomorrow and I’m looking forward to that. Once we enter some open desert and dunes I think we’ll be able to make up some time.” – Bryce Menzies
With over 4,500km of timed racing now complete we move onto another border crossing as the rally leaves Kazahkstan. With over half of the race still to go expect plenty more drama from this edition of the Silk Way Rally.
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Car Race General Classification after Stage 6 (Provisional)
1. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) Peugeot 17h16m24s
Truck Race General Classification after Stage 6 (Provisional)
1. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) Kamaz 19h09m17s