AFTER 12 0F 14 STAGES, PORSCHE LEADS TRANSSYBERIA RALLYE; MONGOLIAN LEGS PROVE TO BE CHALLENGING FOR MAN AND MACHINE
STUTTGART, Germany -- August 16 -- Only 30 of the 39 starters on the 2007 Transsyberia Rallye have made it to the Mongolian village of Bayankhor, with Porsches in the top seven positions overall.
The surprise rally leaders after 12 of the 14-stage event are the German team of Dr. Erik Brandenburg and Stefan Preuss in their Porsche 911 Carrera, holding a nine-minute advantage over the American team of Rod Millen and Richard Kelsey in their Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia.
Brandenburg, who built the body of the Porsche 911 himself to replicate a 1974 Safari rally car complete with red, blue and silver Martini colors, did not miss the significance of a 911 doing well in the desert.
"A Porsche 911 Carrera in the lead -- that feels a little like the Safari Rally," he said.
The previous leaders, Simon and Matt Garnham, became stuck in mud with their Toyota Landcruiser and lost 1:38 hours to the best Porsche. As a result the duo were relegated to twelfth in the overall classification.
Millen, along with co-driver Richard Kelsey, who has won one stage and is moving up steadily in the overall standings, is one of the few competitors not to suffer from flat tires. He credits his years of rally experience to know when the terrain tells you to slow down.
"You will lose some time slowing down to avoid the rough spots, but not as much time as you lose changing a flat. With two more competition stages left, I think we have a shot to win this event," said Millen.
Eight Porsche teams achieved the optimal time of four hours and hence first place in today's classification. The special stage over 177 miles from Altai to Bayankhor led over fast gravel tracks but also through rocky sections.
The other North American team, with Jeff Zwart and Paul Dallenbach at the wheel of their Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, moved from 22nd to 17th place after the extremely rough stage.
Among the competitors who are out of the rally is the Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia of Canadians Kees Nierop and Laurance Yap, who landed nose-first after going over a burm, and damaged their vehicle beyond repair. Thanks to a safety cage and racing seat belt harnesses , both drivers, who were wearing their helmets, came away from the accident with scrapes and bruises. They arrived at the camp in Bayankhor just in time for dinner.
On the previous stage earlier in the week, drivers from the Colombian and Australian Porsche teams didn't see a two-meter-deep ditch, and put their Cayenne S Transsyberia cars off the road. Christian Pfeil-Schneider, Neil Hopkins and Paul Watson sustained minor injuries were sent to the hospital for observation. An additional four Porsche Cayenne S STranssyberia were grounded by the conditions were loaded onto transporters. While rescuing another vehicle Juergen Kern's front differential snapped, and Carles Celma, Oleg Kesselman and Richard Meaden had either oil or cooling problems resulting from rock damage to the engine.
The thirteenth leg of the Transsyberia Rally on Thursday leads from Bayankhor to Mongol Els. This particularly tough stage with many water crossings is 207 miles long.
Top Ten Standings after 12 of 14 legs:
1. Erik Brandenburg/Stefan Preuss, Porsche Carrera, 7:20.40.92 hours
2. Rod Millen/Richard Kelsey, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 9.04.19 minutes behind
3. Adel Abdulla/Norbert Lutteri, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 14.26.65 minutes behind
4. Antonio Tognana/Carlo Cassina, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 16.56.61 minutes behind
5. Armin Schwarz/Oliver Hilger, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 22.15.22 minutes behind
6. Said Al-Hajri/Tim Trenker, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 22.54.51 minutes behind
7. Oliver Schmidt/Thomas Konig, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 27.08.52 minutes behind
8. Lars Kern/Daniel van Kann, Suzuki Grand Vitara, 47.03.16 minutes behind
9. Rene Metge/Silvain Reisser, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 1:02.57.47 hours behind
10. Pau Soler/Laia Peinado, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 1:02.58.43 hours behind