Taklimakan Stage 4: Han Wei & Monleon score double

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Han Wei/Liao Min in car, and Armand Monleón in bike category are the main winners of the fourth stage of 2018 Taklimakan Rally. The new leaders of the overall classification have perfectly managed a very tricky stage. 

STAGE 4 : SHANSHAN > HAMI : 454,91 km   Liaison : 82,86 km | SS : 301,72 km | Liaison : 70,33 km

Stage 4 of 2018 Taklimakan Rally between Shanshan and Hami, 454,91 kilometers long, did not propose any dunes crossing unlike the three last racing days. However, difficulty remained high despite the lack of sand. The field of this selective section was covered of an incalculable number of tracks and change of ways. The route was very hard to read even for the most experienced navigators.

Under an extreme heat, usual in Xinjiang province in this period of the year, the crew Han Wei/Liao Min performed the best. With victory in stage 4, the leading car of the Geely Auto Coopertires team grabs the first rank in the car overall classification. The yellow buggy #105 claims its second victory in 2018 Taklimakan Rally. It finished ahead of its nearest competitor, the first BAIC car of Liu Yangui/Hongyu Pan, despite its stage 3 misfortune, and the Toyota Hilux of Chen Feng/Wang Yicheng which complete the podium of the day. The French duo Christian Lavieille/Jean-Pierre Garcin, fourth of the stage and fourth of overall, stays on the lookout and gains time from most of his main rivals, even though they had to open the route during a big portion of the stage. In contrast, the day was way more difficult for the second European duo of the Keepower team, Rémy Vauthier and Jean Brucy, who did not achieve to reach the finish line in the limited time.

In the motorbike category, Armand Monleón let his rivals to open the route from the first part of the selective section. While the other riders was trying to find the right way, the titledolher pushed hard to reduce the gap he collected since the start of the race in Ürümqi. The operation is excellent for the Spanish rider since he is becoming the new leader of the 2018 Taklimakan Rally after stage 4.  He has now a comfortable lead on his two main rivals, the Chinese riders Hongyi Zhao and Zhang Min. The Zongshen riders, Pablo Pascual and Eric Schiano, are now fourth and fifth in the overall classification.

On Friday June 8th, competitors of 2018 Taklimakan Rally will compete in the first of the two loops planned around Hami, 512,2 kilometers long. The Dunes will already be back for stage 5. 

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Live from the bivouac in Hami (Xinjiang China

Cars

Han Wei (CHN/Geely) | 1st in stage 4 / 1st in overall 
,,Today's stage was pretty tricky, it was easy to make mistakes, We managed to finish with another stage win, and we are also back on top in the overall classification now. We have to stay focused. 2018 Taklimakan Rally is a long race. Everything can happen.''

Christian Lavieille (FRA/BAIC) | 4th of stage 4 / 4th of overall
,,A very nice stage with very hard navigation today. The stage had plenty change of tracks! We had to stay focused. Jean-Pierre did a great job. We lost roughly 3 minutes to find the right track 20 kilometers before the finish line, it seems the other cars did the same mistake than us. Our goal was to be faster than the firsts in the overall classification. We will start 4th tomorrow. We will do our best to have a good day and get out first of the stage.''

Rémy Vauthier (CH/Optimus) | 66th of stage 4 / 49th of overall
,,I thought there were only dunes in China ! We were warned during the briefing that the temperature was going to be very high, roughly 70°C ! Conditions are very difficult, but we love that ! At kilometers 100, the car finished on the roof because of a hole I did not see. We are OK. There are only material damages. We finished the stage, but ouf of the limited time. We  got the time penalty. It’s not the end of the world, we will try to negociate as much as we can the next stages.''

Bikes

Armand Monleón (ESP / KTM) | 1st of stage 4 / 1st of overall
,,I finally did a stage without any problem! I started 5th this morning, and I took advantage of my position on the track to observe the other riders. I followed them, until they made a mistake in a oued. I took the right track, and then I pushed hard. The stage was very physical. All the job I have done these last weeks makes perfect sense in this kind of stage. I think I did the right thing today.''

Zhang Min (CHN/KTM) | 8th of stage 4 / 3rd of overall
,,Stage 4 has been very challenging. I made a mistake on kilometers 57, and got lost. It costs me one hour to get back on the right track. It's good that I made it to the finish today.''

Eric Schiano (FRA/Zongshen) | 12th of stage 4 / 5th of overall
,,A very hard stage today. I got lost at kilometers 60, it costs me roughly 30 minutes. I had decided to ride slowly today anyway. Some days things are going well, some others everything is a bit harder. I’m in a good shape. My motorbike is fine. Tomorrow will be another day.''

Provisional classification of stage 4 / car 

1. Han Wei (CHN) / Liao Min (CHN), Geely, 3h14’22’’
2. Liu Yangui (CHN) / Hongyu Pan (CHN), BAIC, + 16’’
3. Chen Feng (CHN) / Wang Yicheng (CHN), Toyota, + 1’20’’
4. Christian Lavieille (FRA) / Jean-Pierre Garcin (FRA), BAIC, + 1’23’’
5. Liu Kun (CHN) / Wu Dajun (CHN), Geely, + 5’22’’
66. Rémy Vauthier (CH) / Jean Brucy (FRA), Optimus + 100h0’0’’

Overall provisional classification after stage 4 / car 

1. Han Wei (CHN) / Liao Min (CHN), Geely, 11h36’20’’
2. Lu Binglong (CHN) / Sha He (CHN), BAIC, + 4’58’’
3. Zi Yungang (CHN) / Wang Zengrong (CHN), Geely, + 6’20’’
4. Christian Lavieille (FRA) / Jean-Pierre Garcin (FRA), BAIC, + 12’20’’
5. Liu Yangui (CHN) / Hongyu Pan (CHN), BAIC, + 13’47’’
49. Rémy Vauthier (CH) / Jean Brucy (FRA), Optimus, + 108h59’44’’

Provisional classification of stage 4 / bikes 

1. Armand Monleón (ESP), KTM, 3h53’36’’
2. Zhaker Yakefu (CHN), KTM, + 43’19’’
3. Shi Yong (CHN), KTM, + 49’16’’
4. Zhao Hongyi (CHN), KTM,  + 52’40’’
5. Dem Jiang (CHN), Yamaha, + 1h08’28’’
11. Pablo Pascual (ARG), Zongshen, + 1h54’03’’
12. Eric Schiano (FRA), Zongshen, + 2h02’21’’

Overall provisional classification after stage 4 / bikes

1. Armand Monleón (ESP), KTM, 17h09’30’’
2. Zhao Hongyi (CHN), KTM,  + 1h03’44’’
3. Zhang Min (CHN), KTM, + 1h19’24’’
4. Pablo Pascual (ARG), Zongshen, + 1h38’30’’
5. Eric Schiano (FRA), Zongshen, + 2h49’48’’