Silk Way Rally: Series stage 3 report

DE VILLIERS, BACK IN CONTENTION On the magnificent steppes landscape heading to Lipetsk, Giniel de Villiers claimed his second stage success on the Silk Way Rally despite the tricky navigation expected by all. The 2009 Dakar winner...

DE VILLIERS, BACK IN CONTENTION

On the magnificent steppes landscape heading to Lipetsk, Giniel de Villiers claimed his second stage success on the Silk Way Rally despite the tricky navigation expected by all. The 2009 Dakar winner confirmed that he too was a title contender. The South African is now joint second with Nasser Al Attiyah and only 1'19 behind leader Carlos Sainz. In the truck special, Vladimir Chagin witnhessed his first setback and lost the event leadership to his Kamaz team mate Firdaus Kabirov.

In the Volkswagen team while many were expecting a fantastic Dakar type battle between Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al Attiyah, Giniel De Villiers reminded that he was a man to count on. Instead of a two-man fight, a three-man battle makes this Silk Way even more exciting. After taking off fourth of the day's 218km special, the South African first overtook Mark Miller before clocking the best time at CP1 (km 81). But the situation somewhat changed when De Villiers slowed his pace down in the trickiest part of the stage and lost the advantage to Carlos Sainz at CP2 (km 139). But in the last third of the race, "Gini" pushed hard again to claim a second stage win this year.

In front due to their starting position, Sainz and co-driver Cruz struggled in the high grass and lost precious time due to navigation. On two or three occasions, their Race Touareg was seen turning around to find the correct track. The Spaniard however keeps control of the overall standings but will really have to do his best to prevent his two closest rivals from taking the lead. Indeed De Villiers and Al Attiyah are exactly in the same time, 1'19 behind the title holder.

Fourth of the day's stage, Mark Miller moved closer to his Volkswagen mates but still remains behind surprising Boris Gadasin overall. Since the beginning of the rally, the Russian has been showing that he has the speed and the consistency. At CP1, it looked like Bogdan Novitsky would have the honour of being the best non-Volkswagen driver but things went wrong for the Ukrainian on the second half and Gadasin made the best of it. After three stages, the G Force Prototype driver has a 19min deficit on Carlos Sainz and a lead of just over 10min on Miller. Sixth, Mathias Kahle is already 51min adrift.

The contest is just as exciting in the truck race, especially after Vladimir Chagin suffered a slight setback on the last part of the special. The 6-time Dakar winner had clocked the best times at km 81 and 138 but then struggled to reach the finish. Indeed he lost 11'23" to the day's winner Firdaus Kabirov who becomes the new overall leader. Chagin was also beaten by Ales Loprais, 2nd in Lipetsk, the best performance so far of the new Tatra truck. The Czech Republic driver is now fourth overall, 15' behind Kabirov.

-source: aso

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Series DAKAR