Vanguard Integrity Professionals CEO, CTO and founder, Ronn Bailey, finished in 4th place today in his class of the Transorientale Rally from Russia to China after the 12th stage -- possibly the longest and most difficult stage in the world's longest race ever. The race started in St. Petersburg, Russia on June 12 and will end June 28th in Beijing, China, covering 10,000 km in just 17 days.

By the end of Stage 12, Ronn passed approximately 70 other competitors, an impressive feat since he was the last vehicle to start the Stage behind all other cars and T-4 trucks. This forced him to drive through the dust of the other competitors, slowing him down. Stage 12 is a 513km stretch from Turfan to Harmi in China over gravel tracks below sea level and difficult, sandy desert dunes with gigantic cliffs. Daytime temperatures have reached as high as 42o.c (approximately 114o. f).

Discussing his extraordinary performance, Bailey says, "I experienced less misfortune than the other competitors who had difficulties with the traps, the sand dunes, and getting stuck. Many competitors crashed, broke down, or got stuck in the sand. I had a clean run from start to the end without being stuck once."

Ronn, currently in 20th place overall had been consistently running towards the top 10 in the auto class of the Transorientale race early in the rally where there were originally 45 cars.

But prior to the 12th stage, Ronn suffered a series of setbacks which dropped him significantly in the standings. In the 9th stage, there was a collision with a race organization vehicle which was improperly on the race course.

The day before, the rest day, the 10th stage, Ronn's vehicle had major electrical problems. In the last two days before the rest day, his misfortunes took him from overall 6th place to overall 20th place and finally to overall 40th place at the start of today's 12th stage.

Fortunately, during the rest day, Ronn's team was able to repair the vehicle's electrical problems.

Ronn noted that many of the trucks in the race, T-4's, flipped over in the sand dunes. At the time of the evening briefing for today's Stage 13, all of the Rally Organization's sweeper trucks were still engaged in trying to recover the other vehicles still in the dessert. At the competitors briefing for the next stage, race organizer Rene Metge said, "You have to be extra careful tomorrow because the sweeper trucks may still be engaged in trying to recover the vehicles from today's run. If you break, roll over, or get stuck, it may be several days before the sweeper trucks can come and rescue you."

The TransOrientale Course

The Russian segments consisted of five short stages through dense forests, and fast sandy tracks with rollercoaster drops. In Kazakhstan, the four stages traversed numerous lakes and flood zones, though mountainous and difficult to navigate birch forests.

After one rest day before starting the seven TransOrientale stages in China, the race continues along the Sino-Kazakh border. This series of stages winds through slippery undulating dunes as well as gigantic sandy mountain dunes which reach close to 2,000 meters in height. The last legs lead to the foot of the Great Wall, close to Beijing and the finish line on June 28.

The Transorientale Rally-Raid Marathon mixes competition, driving, navigation and adventure with several innovations in all terrain rallies that have been created to encourage greater participation. The "Relay" category allows sharing of one vehicle between several people, with each person driving a complete leg. The "Regularity Raid", enables drivers to participate in parts of the marathon and is open to all vehicles. The "Discovery Rally-Raid" enables people who simply want to drive the course on roads but are ranked on their ability to find the correct routes and entry paths to reach designated sites. www.transorientale.com

-credit: wheresronn.com