2017 SWR: Half-time break
The first week of the 2017 Silk Way Rally is over and Team X-raid spends the rest day in Urumqi with mixed emotions. With the first eight stages contested, Bryce Menzies und Pete Mortensen (both USA) hold third position while Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) and Tom Colsoul (BEL) will start from 14th position into the second week that will take the rally train to Xi’an. It also was an extremely tough week for the X-raid team service crew.
Menzies and Mortensen are supposed to contest the 2017 SWR first of all to gather experience. Menzies has to re-accustom to cross-county rallying, following the long break due to his shoulder injury and Mortensen, who has been working as co-driver in the USA for many years, has to familiarise himself with the special kind of navigation. Both their great position in the overall standings and their win in the seventh stage demonstrate that these missions already have been accomplished. “We are here to learn and the past days offered us a lot of opportunities to do so,” said Menzies. “Winning the stage was fantastic and starting into week to from third position in the overall standings also feels great.”
Meanwhile, it’s mainly about stage wins for Al-Rajhi and Colsoul, in the second week. It’s impossible for the pairing to make up for the time they lost on day two but nonetheless, the pairing doesn’t give up and in the past days, they worked their way back up from 39th to 14th position. “Without the problems on day two we actually would hold a rather good position,” Al-Rajhi says. “Motivating yourself is difficult if you are out of contention for the overall win. But I also came here to keep on gathering experiences. And that’s what I’m going to focus on now.”
The week was not only tough for the drivers. The service crew also had to cope with long days and short nights. In Russia, the driving time amounted to 10 and more hours and the bad weather conditions with rain and cold made working on the cars not exactly easier. Other than the drivers, the service team hasn’t got the time to relax today. The two MINI John Cooper Works Rally vehicles have to be put through their paces and, if necessary, parts have to be changed. Furthermore, the service crew will have to cope with another exhausting 600-kilometre ride, tomorrow. On the following days, however, the distances will be shorter.
For the X-raid team pairings in their MINI John Cooper Works Rally vehicles, tomorrow also will represent a tough day. The stage distance amounts to slightly more than 800 kilometres, with 421 special-stage kilometres. And the route will feature the first dunes of the event. On the following day, the rally takes the field back to fast sections.