Taklimakan Stage 5: Baic back at the front, Monleon confirms

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Stage 5 of 2018 Taklimakan Rally proposed a selective section of 323,08 kilometers long designed around Hami. The chinese crew Binglong Lu/He Sha (BAIC) reached the top of the overall classification. Differences are small in car category while five stages have already been completed out of the nine planned. Armand Monleón on his KTM increased the gap with his main rivals by winning his second victory in a row.

STAGE 5 : HAMI > HAMI : 512,12 km  Liaison : 86,65 km | SS : 323,08 km | Liaison : 102,39 km

The previous night was short for 2018 Taklimakan Rally competitors. The current high heat in the Hami area forced the organizer to change the schedule of the day. Therefore, the first bike left the bivouac at 5AM and the first car at 6.20AM. Competitors faced dunes crossing, fast tracks and still a very precise navigation.

Taking advantage of its sixth rank this morning in the starting order, the chinese crew of BAIC team Binglong Lu/He Sha was the fastest today and grabbed the first rank of the overall classification. Liu Kun/Wu Dajun, first car of Geely Auto Coopertires team, finished second before Christian Lavieille/Jean-Pierre Garcin. Every day in the firsts ranks, but not winner yet, the French duo will have a terrific shot tomorrow since it will start third. The former leaders Han Wei/Liao Min had to open the route after their yesterday’s victory. They suffered  and finished fifth of the day. In the overall classification, the gaps are narrows. The four firsts are separated of only eight minutes.

After a bad perfomance during the first part of the rally, Armand Monleón grabs his second victory in a row in riding alone during the whole stage. The Spanish rider reinforces his leadership position in the overall classification. The fight for the second rank is intense between Zhang Min and Zhao Hongyi, separated by less than one minute. The two Zongshen riders, Pablo Pascual and Eric Schiano are still in the right places, fourth and sixth respectively.

Saturday June 9th competitors will complete the longest stage of 2018 Taklimakan Rally, 637,99 kilometers long including 491,15 kilometers in selective section. This very long stage might increase the gaps between the contenders to the final victory of car classification.

Live from the Hami Bivouac

Cars

Christian Lavieille (FRA/BAIC) | 3rd of stage 5 / 4th of overall

,,We started fourth this morning and we lost time behind the Toyota of Chen Feng because of the fesh dust. We catch up our teamates Binglong Lu and Han Wei. We overtook them in the dunes. Navigation was not easy, and it was hard to create gaps. We drove then 70 kilometers ahead. Things was a bit easier for other competitors thanks to our traces. We are now getting closer in the overall classification. We will start third tomorrow. It’s a good position because the stage will be long.''

Rémy Vauthier (CH/Optimus) | 17th of stage 5 / 47th of overall

,,Temperature was a bit fresher today, roughly 45°C ! Actually it is not unpleasant. The stage was very beautiful with so high dunes that we have the feeling we cannot climb it. So steep that we are impressed by the downhill. Navigation was quite tricky and we got lost a bit as in a real cross-country rally''

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Bikes

Armand Monleón (ESP / KTM) | 1st of stage 5 / 1st of overall 
,,I rode alone all day long. It was a  physical stage with few tricky windows. I rode in a good pace, not taking any risk but always in high speed. I took good navigation decisions and I had fun on the fast tracks. Now it’s time to rest a bit because tomorrow will be a long day.''

Eric Schiano (FRA/Zongshen) | 9th of stage 5 / 6th of overall
,,Long and hot day! The stage was varied: bumpy portions, not very easy crossing dunes and fast tracks in closing. My goal was to pace myself. I will now prepare the road-book assiduously and try to get some sleep.''

Provisional classification of stage 5 / car

1. Lu Binglong (CHN) / Sha He (CHN), BAIC, 3h08’39’’
2. Liu Kun (CHN) / Wu Dajun (CHN), Geely, + 18’’
3. Christian Lavieille (FRA) / Jean-Pierre Garcin (FRA), BAIC, + 5’11’’
4. Zi Yungang (CHN) / Wang Zengrong (CHN), Geely, + 6’20’’
5. Han Wei (CHN) / Liao Min (CHN), Geely, + 6’26’’
17. Rémy Vauthier (CH) / Jean Brucy (FRA), Optimus + 42’15’’

 Provisional overall classification after stage 5 / car

1. Lu Binglong (CHN) / Sha He (CHN), BAIC, 14h49’57’’
2. Han Wei (CHN) / Liao Min (CHN), Geely, + 1’28’’
3. Zi Yungang (CHN) / Wang Zengrong (CHN), Geely, + 6’33’
4. Christian Lavieille (FRA) / Jean-Pierre Garcin (FRA), BAIC, + 7’47’’
5. Liu Yangui (CHN) / Hongyu Pan (CHN), BAIC, + 18’32’’
47. Rémy Vauthier (CH) / Jean Brucy (FRA), Optimus, + 98h01’38’’

Provisional classification of stage 5 / motorbike

1. Armand Monleón (ESP), KTM, 4h14’25’’
2. Zhang Min (CHN), KTM, + 23’12’’
3. Zhaker Yakefu (CHN), KTM, + 26’27’’
4. Zhao Hongyi (CHN), KTM,  + 27’43’’
5. Pablo Pascual (ARG), Zongshen, + 42’51’’
9  Eric Schiano (FRA), Zongshen, + 1h09’59’’

>Provisional overall classification after stage 5 / motorbikes

1. Armand Monleón (ESP), KTM, 21h23’55’’
2. Zhang Min (CHN), KTM, + 1h32’38’’
3. Zhao Hongyi (CHN), KTM,  + 1h33’19’’
4. Pablo Pascual (ARG), Zongshen, + 2h18’50’’
5. Zhaker Yakefu (CHN), KTM, + 3h29’00’’
6. Eric Schiano (FRA), Zongshen, + 3h51’47’’