Al Rahji, first win for Mini
Stage 8 between Bortala and Ürümqi, the longest of the 2016 Silk Way Rally (905 km), was anything but easy. Most of the timed sector took place in the Junggar Basin and it played into the hands of Yazeed Al Rahji (MINI ALL4 Racing). But today’s headline was the unbearable heat, which never stopped climbing throughout the afternoon.
Al Rahji and Peugeot trio
38° was the temperature at the arrival of today’s stage under a piercing sun. Yazeed Al Rahji and Timo Gottschalk in the N°103 MINI ALL4 Racing took what can be considered a surprise victory. “This stage was more suited to the buggies,” said the Saudi driver. “I want to thank Peterhansel who let me by without a problem…” Arriving just ahead of Cyril Despres, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Peugeot DKR2008) was the first car in the stage for most of the day and finished 31 seconds behind Al Rahji. Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret were third, 51 adrift of the stage winner. Silk Way Rally leaders, Cyril Despres and David Castera (Peugeot DKR2008), salvaged fourth place at 04’19” and now have a 06’58” lead from Loeb and Elena, with Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov (MINI ALL4 Racing) third overall at 14’50”.
Van Den Brink, the Flying Dutchman!
In the truck category, the Renault Sherpa of Holland’s Martin Van Den Brink extended his lead. With his second consecutive triumph by a margin of 05’47” from Russian Air at Maree and now has an 18’40” lead from Dmitry Sotnikov, who finished third today. Anton Shibalov (Kamaz) was fourth at the line, 18 minutes adrift of Van Den Brink and dropped to third overall. Starting far behind, after his problems yesterday, Edour Nikolaev completed the Top 5 at more than 20 minutes to the Dutchman.