D-1 Before the kick-off of 2018 Taklimakan Rally
Administratives and technicals scrutineerings of 2018 Taklimakan Rally ended today at Ürümqi. 106 vehicles passed the exercice without encountering any problems. They will all line up tomorrow at the start for 10 race days entirely designed in Xinjiang Province, located in the far West of People’s Republic of China.
The Organization of 2018 Taklimakan Rally checked during these two last days the compliance of each vehicles with the technical regulation of the race. 90 cars and trucks, and 16 bikes and ATVs have been finally allowed to start the rally.
Run Racing Motorsports Team enters four BJ40 BAIC, all of them are credible contenders for the final victory! Leader of the team, Christian Lavieille/Jean-Pierre Garcin, title holder, will compete with Binglong Lu/He Sha, second last year, Guoyu Zhang/Shixin Zhong and Yangui Liu/Hongyu Pan, always very comfortable in the sand. Han Wei, 2015 and 2016 Taklimakan Rally winner, seems to be the main competitor of the BAIC armada. With his yellow buggy of Geely Auto Coopertires team, the chinese driver will count on the seven other buggys of its own team to help him to get the trophy back.
Rémy Vauthier has as yet no experience of driving in China. However, with Jean Brucy on his right, the swiss driver remains a tough contender for stages victory. The francophone duo enters the race with an Optimus Buggy developped by MD Rallye Sport, then operated by Keepower Team in China.
Faced with competitors who improve their levels year after year, Armand Monleón on his KTM will have plenty to do to keep his title in bike category. The chinese riders Zhao Hongyi and Zhang Min will be his main rivals to the final victory. Back in the competition in China after a five years break, the argentinian rider Pablo Pascal should be capable to carry out some good performances. Like the frenchman Eric Schiano who has a significant cross-country rally experience.
The route of 2018 Taklimakan Rally is made up of nine stages, including five loops, 4766 kilometers in total and 2.771 in special stage. Competitors will test their vehicles for the first time tomorrow, on Saturday June 2nd, during a 16,02 kilometers prologue designed around Ürümqi. The final classification of this short warm-up will determine the starting order of stage 1.
LIVE FROM ÜRÜMQI BIVOUAC (XINJIANG / CHINA)
Christian Lavieille (FRA/BAIC) : ''2018 Taklimakan Rally will not be an easy rally. Our goal remains to play the victory. Chinese competitors have competitive cars. They showed also on many occasions they drive very fast. We hope to make a difference in the dunes. We will have to stay focus in order to no make any mistake because it’s very easy to get stucked in a hole. We will have to be smart especially around the Tourpan Depression where the navigation will be very tricky. Our car is very good, developped by Overdrive Racing. We will do our best with the means that we have.''
Han Wei (CHN/ Geely buggy) : ''The Taklimakan Rally is the most important off-road rally event for the Chinese racers. Every year we put a lot of efforts on the race. This year our team has upgraded in all aspects, especially that all vehicles was equipped with AC, in order to deal with the crazy heat in Tulufan region. We have an amazing international machinic team and our management system was also improved, so this year I can spare myself from the team management and focus more on the competition. It will be great to have the third trophy, but now my goal is to avoid from making mistakes and do my best.''
Binglong Lu (CHN/BAIC) : « I was fascinated with the Taklimakan Rally from my first participation. I hope the off-road spirit could last forever in Taklimakan Rally. Last year was pretty good for me, but it was just a start. I hope this year I can make some breakthrough, outdo myself, this is also the expectation from my team. Our team is the biggest team in this rally, We have top pilots, great cars and the best service crew. I have nothing to worry about. I will be 100% focused on the competition. »
Rémy Vauthier (CH/Optimus) : « It’s the first time I’m going to drive in China and I really do not know what to expect. Jean Brucy will be my co-driver. We know each other very well, it’s our sixth cross-country rally we compete together. Our main goal is to avoid making driving or navigation mistakes. We will see what will happen with this strategy. We keep the hope to be as highly classified as possible. »
Guoyu Zhang (CHN/BAIC) : « I was attracted by Taklimakan Rally even when I was racing China cross-country rally championship. It’s the best domestic off-road rally and a real international race. The BAIC team is a well-organized team. We have great experience in Taklimakan Rally, and we have prepared for all situations. This year there will be more sands in the Rally. It’s going to be very difficult, but I have confidence on my BJ40 car and my team. We hope to get a good result. »
Armand Monleón (ESP/KTM) : ,,I’m expecting a tough competition. Every year the riders are improving and working harder and harder. Some of them are playing at home which is a clear advantage. I’m training hard everyday to stay in good shape and ride with a good pace. As usual, i will try to compete at my maximum level and choose the correct lines. The difference can be done in Taklamakan sand, in which the selective section will be tricky in navigation and technically hard. I’m really excited to start the Taklamakan again.''
Zhang Min (CHN/KTM) : ,,This is the 9th Taklimakan Rally for me, in the past I will be expecting to achieve good results before the departure, but after all these years, I am now more expected to see all my old friends and enjoy the big party of Taklimakan Rally. My bike is in the best condition now, and I’m ready to start the wonderful tour.''