Hunt’s joy, Al-Attiyah’s disappointment

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While up until yesterday the rally had enjoyed ‘summer holiday’ weather in a region where rain is rare, violent storms hit today’s stage. With race and safety conditions deteriorating by the minute, the organisers decided to stop the race at CP1 (km 140). It is in these exceptional conditions that Harry Hunt Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi No 107 won the third stage of the 2018 SILK WAY RALLY. The British driver takes over the lead in the car class following the problems encountered by Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Hilux n°101), forced to leave Elista with just two-wheel drive and who lost almost an hour getting stuck in the mud. In the trucks the special stage being stopped at kilometre 140 (CP1) allowed Dmitry Sotnikov (Kamaz-Master) to strengthen his position as overall leader.

Cars: Hunt… chases down Al-Attiyah

With the sky falling in on his head Nasser Al-Attiyah nevertheless retains his legendary smile. Without rear-wheel drive on his Toyota Hilux since yesterday, the Qatari driver didn’t have any easy time of it on this 3rd stage back to Astrakhan. Stuck just 3 kilometres from CP1 (km140) and fearful of having problems with his clutch it took him more than 50 minutes and a big helping hand from the Russian driver Krotov (BMW X3 n°11) to finally make it to the control point. A blessing for his rivals who redoubled their efforts to get to the finish line in the heavy rain.

Sensing his chance and perfectly guided by his co-driver Sébastien Delaunay, Harry Hunt (Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi n°107) fought it out with the two MINI John Cooper Work of Yazeed Al Rahji and Nani Roma. Between forced showers and barely controlled slides the three of them were the only ones to make it to the end of the special, crossing the line within seconds of each other. In the end it was the British driver who took his first stage victory just 48 seconds ahead of Al Rahji, in the process taking the overall lead by more than 18 minutes on the Saudi driver. With the race stopped at CP1 Al-Attiyah was classified as 16th on the stage and is this evening in 3rd place, 55:24 behind Hunt.

Nifontova keeps her overall lead - just

For Anastasia Nifontova (Toyota Land Cruiser n°132) this 3rd stage was almost disastrous. Giving away nearly 46 minutes to the Chinese driver Zi Yun Gang (Toyota Land Cruiser n°134), the Russian saw her comfortable overall lead melt like the snow. Second on the day, the other Toyota of Chinese driver Lu Binglong, completes the provisional podium in the T2 category reserved for production vehicles. A change of leaders however in the T3 class (SSV), where the Russian Mariia Oparina (Maverick X3 n°115) was overhauled by the Bulgarian driver Petar Cenkov (Quaddy Yxz n°130), winner of the stage ahead of the Frenchman Frédéric Chavigny (Polaris RZR n°126).

Trucks: Sotnikov out of the mud hole

The pictures say it all: three Kamaz stuck up to their axles in a giant mud hole. The scene takes place some 20 kilometres from CP1. After Karginov, it was the turn of Nikolaev and his black ‘Kapotnik’ to get impossibly stuck. Arriving to help out his team mates, it was then Anton Shibalov who lost his footing. Starting last this morning from Elista, after driving all night, following repairs to his Renault Sherpa, in the end it was Martin Van Den Brink who saved the Russian team from their ‘ship wreak’. The Dutchman will able to celebrate his birthday in style after finally finishing second on the day behind the only Kamaz to get through the mud, that of Dmitry Sotnikov. In the process the winner of the 2017 edition increases his overall lead on his team mates Mardeev and Karginov by 26 and 35 minutes respectively. But the misadventure of the day goes without contest to the MAZ Sport Auto team, whose leader Siarheii Viazovich, conceded more than 3 hours, stuck off-piste after trying to go round an obstacle.

Silk Way Rally