Taklimakan Stage 1: Lavieille loses time, Yakefu arises


2018 Taklimakan Rally left Ürümqi this morning to reach Shanshan bivouac, located at the north of the Xinjiang province. The winners of yesterday’s prologue had contrasting fortunes during this first stage. Christian Lavieille/Jean-Pierre Garcin lost much time and left the leadership of the rally to Zi Yungang / Wang Zengrong. Zhaker Yakefu took the lead to Armand Monleón, second of the stage, in motorbike category.

STAGE 1 : ÜRÜMQI > SHANSHAN : 462,25km
Liaison : 188,95 km | SS : 214,4 km | Liaison : 58,9km

This first stage of 462,35 kilometers long between Ürümqi and Shanshan included fast portions in its first part, and a sequence of dunes crossing of 40 kilometers long to reach the finish line. Temperatures above 40° were encountered on the track.

In charge to open the route since their victory in the prologue, Christian Lavieille and Jean-Pierre Garcin have been through a difficult first stage. A roll over, without gravity, during a dune crossing cost more than 20 minutes to the french duo of the Run Racing Motorsports team. Victory fall to the crew of the SMG buggy Zi Yungang / Wang Zengrong.  Yangui Liu / Pan Hongyu are the first representatives of BAIC team. The chinese crew finished second of the stage and proved once again they are very comfortable in the sand. 

In the bike category, Zhaker Yakefu wins the first stage. The chinese rider launches his 2018 Taklimakan Rally in the best possible way. Only fifth yesterday, he is now leading the overall classification. The Daming KTMR2R Rally team took the second and third ranks with Armand Monleón and Zhang Min. Eric Schiano finished sixth and fell without gravity few kilometers before the finish line.

On Monday June 4th, competitors of 2018 Takimakan Rally will compete a first loop around Shanshan. Stage 2 will contain a selective section of 297,75 kilometers long for a total stage of 390,74 kilometers. 


 Live from the Shanshan bivouac (Xinjiang / China)


Binglong Lu (CHN/BAIC) | 4st in stage 1 / 4th in overall
,,After kilometers 170, it was all desert landscape, top level difficulty. The surface of the desert is super soft. Our BJ40 works very well and is more powerful than last year. Today is the first special stage of the Taklimakan rally 2018. Most of the competitors do not push yet the cars to the limit, because nobody wants to break the vehicles. Everything is under our control. The plan of the team is to run a steady race.''

Han Wei (CHN/Geely) | 6th in stage 1 / 6th in overall
,,We lost much time today because of a tyre puncture. A navigation mistake cost us few seconds as well. Apart from that, everything is going well. The car works very well, and the collaboration with my co-drivers is perfect. The race has just begun.''

Rémy Vauthier (CH/Optimus) | 9th in stage 1 / 9th in overall
,,Good stage for us from start to end. We drove very fast in the first part of the stage, but always with the proper pace. I usually do not feel comfortable in the dunes, but I enjoyed it very much today. This desert is huge, without traps. We even drove a little bit slower to enjoy the landscape. Breathtaking scenery. We are very happy."


Armand Monleón | 2nd in stage 1 / 2nd in overall
"Stage 1 was very difficult. Very fast in its first part, It became more technical when we arrived in the dunes. The navigation was not easy, with very tricky caps and tracks not always visible. Chinese riders are very fast. We are now fully in the competition."

 Pablo Pascual (ARG/Zongshen) | 4th in stage 1 / 4th in overall
,,It was a good stage for me. Tracks in China are really amazing. Navigation was very tricky. I decided to not take any risk today. I will keep this pace during the next stages because dunes are too much different of what I usually meet in Argentina.''

Eric Schiano (FRA/Zongshen) | 6th in stage 1 / 6th in overall
,,Very nice stage today with much off-road navigation. I’m a bit surprised by the road-book which is perfect. I fell down 5 kilometers before the finish line. This is my fault, I was not focused enough. Of course, i will be there for stage 2. I feel OK. Today was a very good day for the team.''