Al Rajhi and Karginov crowned in the Red Square
Yazeed Al Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk (MINI John Cooper Works n°103), in the car class, and Andrey Karginov, Andrey Mokeev and Igor Leonov (Kamaz-Master n°309), in the trucks have today won the 2018 SILK WAY RALLY at the end of the 7th and last stage between Lipetsk and the capital of the Russian Federation.
Crowned on the podium set up in the Red Square in Moscow, the victors were at last able to savour their first wins on this event, at the end of a week’s thrilling racing between between Astrakhan and Moscow. For all the competitors the arrival at the foot of the Saint Basile Basil’s Cathedral, opposite the Kremlin, is synonymous with an extraordinary achievement after some 3500 kilometres of racing through the heart of the most beautiful scenery in south east Russia. After the podium ceremony at one of the most famous squares in the world there will be a gala evening at the Ritz-Carlton hotel just next to the Red Square, bringing to a close an exceptional week’s racing.
Cars: Hunt sprints, Al Rajhi stays efficient
Slowly, the MINI John Cooper Works n°103 comes to a stop at the finish line. Smiling, Yazeed Al Rajhi and his co-driver Timo Gottschalk extricate themselves from the cockpit and unfurl a Saudi flag across the windscreen. Having got their car safely home, the X-Raid team crew savour this victory achieved with efficacy and reliability. Because while they weren’t the fastest on the track, throughout the 3.500 km from the start last Saturday in Astrakhan, the MINIs lost less time than their main rivals.
Nasser Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel (Toyota Hilux n°101), Mathieu Serradori and Fabian Lurquin (Buggy SRT n°108), 2nd and 3rd respectively on the podium, eat dust due to the lack of reliability of their vehicles over the particularly demanding terrain. Harry Hunt and Sébastien Delaunay (Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi n°107), took full advantage of this special stage, shortened due to an impossible to cross river, to take their 2nd stage win on this 2018 SILK WAY RALLY.
Zi Yun Gang imperial, Opariina pulls off the double
Here at the request of their national motorsport federation to celebrate the friendship between China and Russia, Zi Yun Gang and Lu Binlong (Toyota Land Cruiser) couldn’t have hoped for a better result. In achieving this emphatic one-two in the T2 class, the two drivers showed their complete mastery of this demanding terrain. Already winners last year in Xi’an, Mariia Opariina and Taisiia Shtaneva (Maverick X3 n°115) drove another perfect rally to once again win ahead of the many men they left trailing in their dust. The Bulgarian Petar Cenkov (Quaddy Xzy n°130) gets on to the second step of the podium, while the Pole Szustrowski (Polaris RZR n°133) took advantage of this final stage to complete the final T3 (SSV) podium, beating his French Xtreme Plus team mate, Nicolas Duclos (Polaris RZR n°117) in extremis.
Trucks: Van Den Brink in extremis, Karginov at last!
It was a pleasure to see his joy. At the finish line of this last special, Andrey Karginov didn’t hold back when celebrating his first SILK WAY RALLY victory. A victory that many seasoned observers anticipated would go to one of his team mates: the two times winner and title holder, Dmitry Sotnikov, Airat Mardeev (winner in 2012 and 2016), or Eduard Nikolaev (2010) and his famous ‘Kapotnik’.
But in the end Karginov (Kamaz-Master n°309) confounded the pundits by being the only one to get the Russian manufacturer’s new model, still suffering from a few teething troubles, to the finish without drama. Unlucky at the start of the rally, the Dutchman Maarten Van Den Brink (Renault Sherpa n°304), who had come along to throw the cat among the pigeons in the back garden of his main rivals, won this last stage, a victory he had been chasing after these last five days.