In the Longest Special of the Rally, Ales Loprais Gets to Second Overall
Stage 5 of the Silk Way Rally left the Kalmykian desert and offered fast surfaces full of steppe paths. Following the tough run of the previous specials, organizers decided to shorten the opening part of the special by 60 kilometers, which complicated a bit the race for some of the newcomers as they had not recorded new version of the roadbooks to their GPS machines.
Ales Loprais started the special first and for the whole time he stayed within a shooting distance to Kabirov, the stage winner. The fast run on a hard surface suited well the Russians equipped by rigid axles. It was Franz Echter to score the best result of the rally after his first really smooth run without any technical problems. He took the stage silver away from Ales. However, it was Karginov to stop with problems and place tenth in the special. Ales then moved to second overall with an extra margin to be defended in the last two days of the rally.
"Today it was tough again and sometimes extremely fast, sometimes even senselessly. Many times it was beyond the durability of man and machine. We were driving with Kabirov. He caught us up in a curvy section and then we caught up with him and desperately tried to pass him. He never let us go and many times it was beyond a normal fair drive. Sometimes we drove aside of each other and in the dust it was very risky. Hundred kilometers before the finish we lost the intercom and had to shout and gesture, it was quite annoying. At the very end we got a puncture and finished the special on it, losing some minutes. But we managed to climb on the second place, which pleases us," Ales summarized the stage.
The situation in TOP 10 mixed a bit again and the group of crews remains very competitive. An outstanding performance boosted Echter from the 8th to the 5th place and switched positions with Peter Versluis who in turn had a bad stage today. Both father and son Maredeevs lost some time helping Karginov but the drop of the day was recorded by Johan Elfrink who lost 6 hours and left TOP 10. Another yo-yo day there was for Ardavichus in Astana colors – today with a positive amplitude and an outstanding 4th place.
The crew of Bonver Dakar Team is already focusing on a proper finish of the rally. Also in Stage 5 it was kept up. "We paid the newcomers' tax by not recording the modified roadbook. After several tens f kilometers when nothing matched we turned around and returned to the start of the special to record it. Then we arrived to one of the MAZ trucks who had tipped on a side. So we stopped to help them back on wheels. We finally reached TO20. it is a very tough test for usb but we are enjoying every bit of it," driver Tomas Vratny said.
Stage 6 will contain two special test, totaling 168 kilometers which usually means one of two things. The organizers either want to ease competitors on a short special or the special is very technical.