SAINZ IN COMMAND After a first showdown between the favourites of the Silk Way Rally on the way to Staraya Russa, the areas of Smolensk and Viazma were the scene of another fine battle where the four Volkswagens powered to success and where ...
SAINZ IN COMMAND
After a first showdown between the favourites of the Silk Way Rally on the way to Staraya Russa, the areas of Smolensk and Viazma were the scene of another fine battle where the four Volkswagens powered to success and where Carlos Sainz showed that he was the boss... again! The Spaniard captured both stage victory and overall leadership. In the truck race, Kamaz remain the Masters and know that they have in their team a very promising talented in Eduard Nikolaev, who claimed his first ever success in a major race.
Slightly upset after a minor mechanical problem, Carlos Sainz certainly wanted to hit back, especially behind the steering wheel of his new Race Touareg III. Yesterday indeed a broken bonnet made visibility a nightmare for co-driver Lucas Cruz. When leaving Staraya Russa, El Matador probably wanted to show that he was the boss, the title holder and therefore the number one favourite. On the day's stage, divided in two timed sectors, Sainz started by overtaking Boris Gadasin who had beaten him by two seconds on the previous day. Halfway through the special, the Spaniard with the best time, closed in on the two cars ahead of him, the Race Touareg's of De Villiers and Al Attiyah. And that was just a start.
After 130kms of liaison to reach the start of the second sector, the battle continued between the three leading Volkswagens. In fine fashion, the two-time WRC champion continued his master-piece on regular rally type tracks. On the finish line, Sainz could enjoy a 1'30 lead over Al Attiyah on the day's stage. As well as a fourth stage success in the short history of the Silk Way Rally, the 2010 Dakar winner took command of the overall standings with a 1'07 advantage over main rival Al Attiyah. Mark Miller's third spot, at 3'56 helps him move up 10 positions in the standings (now 7th) and puts Volkswagen back on track for a fabulous 1-2-3-4. The American could soon become a threat for Russia's Boris Gadasin, now fourth at 5'17 of the rally leader. Again, the Russian Baja specialists managed the best time of the non-Volkswagen drivers. Another man to watch in the days to come is Ukraine's Bogdan Novitsky, 5th and close to 21"' adrift.
In the truck race, a new era might have begun on the paths of the Silk Way Rally. A new page in the history of truck racing and the history of the Kamaz squad thanks to the victory of Eduard Nikolaev who clocked the fastest time with a 30" advantage over Firdaus Kabirov . n the day's special. Already a winner of a stage in the Russian championship, the young man went one step higher and made the best of his learning expericnce within the blue team. These last two years, Nikolaev was sitting on the right hand side of legendary Vladimir Chagin on the Dakar. Associated to the Tsar's victory in Buenos Aires last January, the ambitious Russian had also claimed second spot, but as a driver, of a stage of the first edition of the Silk Way (fourth overall). His lessons in blue certainly seem to have paid off. And just for the record: for his first appearance on the Dakar as a driver back in 1999, Chagin had won six stages. He was 29 years of age at the time. Nikolaev is only 26.