Distance: 412,06KM - Selective section: 279,06KM
S.6 – The race
Bikes: Mena and Sunderland take the ‘right’ track
It isn’t the first time it has happened in rally-raid and it most certainly won’t be the last. At an exceptionally animated finish line those competitors who found the right way were sure the road book was correct.
Those who took the wrong way were convinced there was a mistake. Just after the start of the second special a number of the front runners, notably the two Benavides brothers, went to the left, losing considerable time in the process. The track opener and overall leader Sam Sunderland (Red Bull KTM Factory) initial did the same thing, checked his compass heading and jumped over to the right. In doing so he increases his overall lead significantly and relegates one of his most serious rivals, Kevin Benavides, to 7th place (at 32:42).
Second overall yesterday, Kevin’s brother Luciano also lost time, handing his position to the other major beneficiary of today’s special, Oriol Mena (Hero Motorsports), who wins the stage and jumps up from 5th overall (at 21:10).
Polish privateer Adam Tomiczek was another man who found the right track and was rewarded for his efforts with his first ever FIM world championship podium. Fourth placed man overall yesterday, Paulo Goncalves goes out of the running after his bike stopped early in the stage.
Oriol Mena (Hero Motorsports) 1st “Yesterday when I was going through the road book on the right side they put I think 3000 metres take compass heading 270 and I found really well the way, even if the other ones don’t find it… . I feel good today, bike is good, so I am happy. Unfortunately at km 50 / 60 Paulo Goncalves had a mechanical problem. I stopped to help him but we couldn’t find the solution so I decided to go.”
Cars: Al-Attiyah get away with it
There’s no such thing as a ‘sure thing’ in rally-raid. On the finish line of the 6th stage, a couple of kilometres from the bivouac, the blue sky gives way to clouds and some light rain. Getting out of his Toyota, Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing Overdrive) isn’t wearing his usual sunny smile. He knows he has just put at risk his unbeaten run on this SILK WAY RALLY. Like some of the best bike riders before him, Al-Attiyah and Baumel missed, three kilometres after the restart of the special, this difficult to see track heading off on cap 270. Not a major drama, but a big enough one to almost cost him the stage.
Because without the double trouble of a stuck gearbox and a puncture ten kilometres from the finish, Denis Krotov (MINI JCW), who was 23 minutes in the lead, 50 kilometres from the finish, would have not only had a victory to celebrate, but would also have come to within twenty or so minutes of the leader overall.
However, fate decided otherwise. And in the end the second place went to Eric Van Loon, allowing the Overdrive Team to score another double. The Dutchman finally beat Mathieu Serradori (Buggy CR6 SRT) by just 10 seconds. Overall Al-Attiyah is now 40 minutes ahead of the Chinese driver Liu Kun (Hanwei SMG) and 15 minutes up on Jérôme Pélichet (Optimus Raid Lynx), eighth on today’s stage.
Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qat/Toyota Gazoo Racing Overdrive) 1st: “The special was difficult to navigate. You had to really pay attention. At certain points we hesitated, but in the end everything worked out OK. It is the 6th victory on the trot for us. Tomorrow is relaxed – just 550 kilometres of liaison to go into China, where we will discover the dunes of the Gobi Desert.”
Trucks: Viazovich holds steady
Like Al-Attiyah in the car category, Siarhey Viazovich (MAZ), has squatted the overall lead of the trucks since the start of this SILK WAY RALLY. And while, unlike the Qatari, he hasn’t won every stage since the start in Irkutsk, the Belarusian driver today posted his 3rd stage victory to once again hold off the Kamaz-Master Armada who continue to chase after him. The leader of the MAZ team beat off Shibalov and Mardeev by less than thirty seconds, while van den Brink (Renault Mammoet) and Karginov (Kamaz), victim of a puncture, round out the top 5, roughly 5 minutes behind. Overall, Viazovich goes into China with an advantage of more than 16 minutes over Shibalov, while the other Kamaz-Master of Karginov is this evening 24 minutes behind.
Siarhey Viazovich (MAZ) 1st: “Each day we get speeding penalties. I know I’m not perfect where this is concerned, but this time I really don’t understand. They changed our equipment (GPS), but we never manage to read the correct speed in the danger zones. We try and respect the speed limits but the fines and penalties keep coming nearly every day.”
STAT OF THE DAY
Kilometre 289,91 of this 6th selective section caused a major upset for some of the riders and drivers. You had to find the difficult to see track heading off on 270°. If in the bike class this note will remain memorable for Oriol Mena (Hero), who wins his first victory on this SILK WAY RALLY, it is also the place where Kevin Benavides (Honda) perhaps lost the race. In the cars the change of bearing very nearly interrupted Nasser Al-Attiyah’s (Toyota) clean run.
Tomorrow: Stage 7 - DALANZADGAD - BAYINBAOLIGE: No selective section: border crossing from Mongolia to China - Distance: 551KM
Not exactly a rest day, but no racing, just a liaison to go from Mongolia to China. Leaving from the bivouac from 5:30 (GMT+8) for 550,66 kilometres at a gentle pace, with the local traffic, interspersed with customs formalities between the two countries. In the beginning of the afternoon the first vehicles should be arriving in Bayin Boalige for the first Chinese bivouac.