SAUDI ARABIA’S YAZEED AL-RAJHI EXTENDS RALLY KAZAKHSTAN LEAD WITH FASTEST TIME ON LONGEST STAGE 

MEDIA INFORMATION

2018 Rally Kazakhstan

For immediate release

Tuesday, May 29th2018

SAUDI ARABIA’S YAZEED AL-RAJHI EXTENDS RALLY

KAZAKHSTAN LEAD WITH FASTEST TIME ON LONGEST STAGE 

·        Russia’s Vasilyev climbs to second place; Poland’s Przygonski maintains third

·        Kazakh Chernenkov builds T2 lead; Pena Campo maintains T3 advantage

KENDERLY (KAZAKHSTAN): Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi extended his overnight lead from 2min 04sec to 7min 42sec in Rally Kazakhstan with the fastest time on the longest selective section of the entire event – a 414.12km loop through the deserts near Senek - on Tuesday.

The MINI John Cooper Works Rally driver and German navigator Timo Gottschalk carded a stage time of 4hrs 00min 45sec to beat the Russian crew of Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov by 1min 46sec. Vasilyev’s consolation was moving up from fourth to second position in the overall standings in his MINI Cooper Countryman.

“It was a good stage but we broke a drive shaft before 60km and we tried to continue to the finish,” said Al-Rajhi. “It was difficult in some places because we were opening the road. We got lost as well. I think most people had the same problem. There were a lot of bushes in the dunes today.”

Zhiltsov said: “Today was a good special for us. We are here with no mistakes and no punctures and the car is good. We are happy. We are a little bit tired. 400km is difficult when you need to have a big speed all the time.”

Jakub Przygonski remained on course for a vital haul of FIA World Cup points by setting the third quickest time and he maintained third place at the expense of Frenchman Luc Alphand in X-raid’s MINI Buggy, although he finished the stage gingerly after reported suspension issues near the end. Alphand, the 2006 Dakar Rally winner, dropped seven and a half minutes to the stage winner and slipped to fifth overall behind Czech driver Martin Prokop.

Prokop had finished the opening stage in fifth place in his Ford F-150 Evo but was handed a one-minute time penalty by rally officials and started day two in sixth overall behind Yuriy Sazonov. Sazonov rolled his Hummer H3 in the day’s stage, lost his position inside the top 10 and was waiting for assistance to determine whether he could continue.

Alphand said: “Not the best of days for us. We had a puncture in the dunes. It is not easy when it is going like this. We are still positive and we have to develop.”

Harry Hunt had fallen to 16th overall after day one in his Peugeot 3008 DKR, but the Briton delivered an impressive display on the second stage to record the fifth fastest time and move up 10 positions to sixth.

Unfortunately, Overdrive Racing’s managing director Jean-Marc Fortin confirmed on Monday afternoon that Al-Attiyah’s engine had sustained damage and there was no way for the Qatari to continue. It looked as though the defence of the FIA World Cup title was over for the season. Overdrive’s scant consolation was seventh overall for the French crew of Ronan Chabot and Gilles Pillot in the sole-surviving Toyota Hilux.

Chabot said: “It was a long stage, more than 400km, with difficult and technical dunes. Each kilometre was different and we are happy to be at the end.”

Viktor Khoroshavtsev held eighth in the last of the MINI John Cooper Works Rally entries after navigational delays and fellow Russians Andrey Rudskoy and Boris Gadasin rounded off the top 10 in a pair of G-Force cars.

Yerden Shagirov was the leading local driver in 12th overall. He said: “It was a difficult stage, including 10km of dunes. I have not raced really for one year and it affected me a lot. I was stuck in the dunes for 40 minutes. The rest of the stage was a bit fast and very rocky. It was good for me, but I have a small problem with the gearbox and the engineers are working on that.”

Kazakhstan’s Kirill Chernenkov extended his lead in the T2 category from 3min 44sec to 9min 15sec over Russia’s Konstantin Ivanov. Qatar’s Adel Abdulla and OFF-ROAD Kazakhstan’s Marat Abykayev were still tackling the stage in the other two T2 entries.

Spaniard José Pena Campo moved 16min 26sec clear of fellow countryman Santiago Navarro in the T3 standings and Kazakh Dmitry Pitulov maintained third. Frenchman Patrice Garrouste had collected 100 hours of time penalties for failing to finish the opening stage following mechanical issues and the Polaris RZR 1000 driver had slipped to the foot of the rankings. But he had the consolation of the day’s T3 stage win in a time of 5hrs 31min 30sec.

Andrey Karginov continued to lead Team Kamaz Masters colleague Sergey Kupriyanov in the National Rally and would have been classified in 12th overall in the FIA event.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), the second of the loop stages out of the Kenderly bivouac runs for 327.47km and heads deeper into the area to the east of the overnight halt and explores new sections of the vast expanses of wasteland in western Kazakhstan.

For further media information: Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, international media officer, 2018 Rally Kazakhstan, UK mobile: +44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@googlemail.com, Twitter: @LordPerkins, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).

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