Silk Way Rally: Series stage 1 report

De Villiers hits back Like a year ago, South-Africa's Giniel De Villiers, winner of the 2009 Dakar captured the first special of the Silk Way Rally. The gaps are however bigger than on last year's short Kazan prologue, De Villiers indeed...

De Villiers hits back

Like a year ago, South-Africa's Giniel De Villiers, winner of the 2009 Dakar captured the first special of the Silk Way Rally. The gaps are however bigger than on last year's short Kazan prologue, De Villiers indeed crossing the line with a 2'06 advantage over Nasser Al Attiyah , 2'27'' over Russian Boris Gadasin, and 2'29'' over title holder Carlos Sainz. In the truck race, Firdaus Kabirov powered to victory despite the pressure of Vladimir Chagin. A fine day it was to be for the Kamaz squad with four of their machines in the leading positions.

On one side, the Hermitage palace, former winter residence of the Tsars of Russia and now one of the most impressive museums in the World with an unbelievable number of master pieces. On the other, the local army headquarters in a building that looks just as splendid. At the heart of the Palace Square, the first podium of the Silk Way Rally welcomed all the car and truck crews for a prestigious opening ceremony in front of thousands of spectators, eager to cheer on the heroes. And for such an occasion, the Russian Sports and Tourism Minister, Vitaly Mutko honoured the competitors and organizers by his presence.

After leaving such a prestigious scene, Carlos Sainz in charge of leading the way as the title holder resumed with real racing on a short 86kms special on countryside paths and forests. After 28kilometres of driving, the appetite of his team mates and rivals inside the Volkswagen team seemed just as big as during the last Dakar, their last competitive encounter. At CP1, Giniel De Villiers had indeed clocked the fastest time.

The South African who had remained in the shadows of Sainz and Al Attiyah during the 2010 Dakar, renewed with a long awaited success since 2009. He had however witnessed a slim satisfaction on the first edition of the Silk Way Rally when he claimed the short prologue competed in Kazan on a distance of only 2013 kilometres. This time, De Villiers' success is a lot more worthy and allows him to take command of the event with a 2'06 lead over Al Attiyah. Just behind, this first real test was taken extremely seriously by Russian Nissan driver Boris Gadasin who managed a fine third spot, 2'27'' behind De Villiers, but 2" faster than El Matador Carlos Sainz himself who struggled with a broken bonnet making visibility very tricky for his co-driver Lucas Cruz.

The rivals of the race Touareg drivers pushed hard straight from the start. Indeed other than Boris Gadasin, his compatriot Ilya Kuznetsov and Ukrainian Bogdan Novitsky managed fine performances with a deficit of just over 11'. Second overall last year, Mark Miller however seemed to struggle with the weight of the spare parts he carries in his Volkswagen. The American indeed lost 25' to Giniel De Villiers.

In the truck class, it was another triumphant day for the Kamaz team with four vehicles in the leading four positions. While Vladimir Chagin seemed to have taken an option for victory with the fastest time at CP1, it was finally title-holder Firdaus Kabirov who hit back and found the way to clock the fastest time. Kabirov reached the finish line of the special close to Staraya Russa with a 16" advantage over his Kamaz team captain Chagin. A young and promising driver from the Russian squad, Eduard Nikolaev who claimed fourth position last year, confirmed what a talented driver he was by grabbing third spot on the day, 2'06 adrift. Ilgizar Mardeev finished fourth while the competition already seems far. Ales Loprais in his brand new Tatra had to settle for 5th place at 4'34. The Czech Republic driver still has 7 days of racing and just under 2000kms to hit back.

-source: aso

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Mark Miller , Carlos Sainz , Vladimir Chagin , Firdaus Kabirov , Ales Loprais , Eduard Nikolaev , Ilgizar Mardeev , Boris Gadasin , Lucas Cruz , Ilya Kuznetsov , Bogdan Novitsky