Poland’s Krzysztof Holowczyc and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin snatched victory for the Monster Energy X-raid Team on the fifth stage of the 2011 Silk Way Rally between Astrakhan and Stavropol in Russia on Thursday.
The stage win marked the pinnacle of another successful day for the X-raid team, with the French duo of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret recording the second fastest time in the team’s MINI All4 Racing and the Russian duo of Alexander Mironenko and Sergey Lebedev finishing third after recovering from delays on Wednesday in their BMW X3 CC.
Holowczyc duly increased his lead in the overall standings. The Pole fought a duel with Aleksandre Zheludov’s Nissan for the first part of the day’s special, but the Russian slippedbehind as the stage progressed. “At the beginning I could not find the right pace,” said Holowczyc. “That is why I did not want to push too much. But then Zheludov passed me when we changed a flat tyre. I did not want to stay in the dust so I began to push harder.”
Later in the stage, the Pole caught Peterhansel and remained behind his teammate. “We saw that there was something wrong with him and stayed behind to help in case we were needed.” The Frenchman suffered problems with the cooling system for the turbocharger after around 150km of the stage and had to stop twice to refill the system with water. “It was disappointing, but we made the best of it to finish in second place. There were some nice tracks near the finish, including an uphill pass through grassland.”Mironenko was pleased with his third position for the Monster Energy X-raid team. “Of course we are pleased with the result,” he said. “We had to stop twice to change a tyre.”
Monster Energy X-raid team boss Sven Quandt was satisfied with the day’s performance. “I think it’s very good that Krzysztof remained where he was at the end of the stage to ensure that Stéphane and he both reached the finish safely. I was wondering how fast the Nissan
(Aleksandre Zheludov) was pushing today.” Peterhansel had a special encounter when he visited the farm to ask for water to fill the cooling system. “I came with the helmet, ran into the yard and there was an old woman with no teeth,” said the Frenchman. “She was quite shocked when she saw me. Then I winced. The men had recently slaughtered a lamb and were about to pull the skin off! They were very friendly and gave me water…”
Tomorrow (Friday) crews tackle two short special stages en route to Maykop. The day begins with a 36km liaison section to the first 113.68 km timed stage. The terrain features wide, open grassland and narrow, winding paths before heading into a 30km neutralization zone. The second timed section will be extremely fast, according to race officials, and will feature numerous 90- degree bends.
Silk Way Rally – Stage 5 @ 13:30hrs:
1. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (BEL) BMW X3 CC 6h 44m 15s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) MINI All4 Racing 6h 47m 04s
3. Alexander Mironenko (RUS)/Sergey Lebedev (RUS) BMW X3CC 7h 04m 30s
Silk Way Rally – Overall Standings after Stage 5 @ 13:30 hrs:
1. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (BEL) BMW X3CC 27h 20m 01s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) MINI All4 Racing 29h 25m 03s
3. Aleksandre Zheludov (RUS)/Andrey Rudnitskiy (BLR) Nissan 30h 02m 23s
5. Alexander Mironenko (RUS)/Sergey Lebedev (RUS) BMW X3CC 31h 22m 47s