As the Tibetan lamas prayed all night for the Silk Way Rally, the sky was cleared and competitors enter the fourth special stage, shortened to 380 km after the night rain.
The race will cross its finish line tomorrow in Maykop, and as respect to the victims of the floods in the Krasnodar Region, some drivers decided to play their best card while others took the day to assure their final position.
The Russian Vasilyev (Gforce) confirmed his skills on the steppes fast tracks and on the dunes taking the stage win 1’29 seconds in front of the Argentineans Alvarez/Graue (Toyota Overdrive), who had a much brighter day after yesterday´s problems. Lavieille and Laroque (Proto Dessoude) were third, 7’21 behind the leader.
Gadasin (GForce) finished fourth and will take off for tomorrow´s last special stage, Elista-Maykop, in front of Pelichet (Toyota Overdrive), Errandonea (SMG) and Khale (SAM Mercedes) broke a joint at km 190 and kept going without it until the end. The CzeckLoprais (MAN): “It was a hard day for me because I had a fever and I thought I was no going to be able to drive. On the track, once I started to run against Kamaz I forgot I was sick.”
Zapletal (H3) crossed the finish line in the eighth position in front of Szalay, who was quite shaken just like driving over camel grass in Africa. Behind him was Vasilyev (GForce):”It was a fast day, with some sandy portions. I had fun. I am very happy with the stage victory and tomorrow I want to win again, so I will attack!”
In the overall classification we find Lavieille/Larroque, followed by Pelichet/Panseri and Gadasin/Schemel third.
Magnaldi/Forthomme (Buggy Dessoude) lost lots of time while in a hole. They were taken out by another competitor. Less luck for Isabelle Patissier and Thierry Dellis-Zotti, who arrived to the bivouac at 3.30 a.m. due to problems with the universal joint. They did not take the start this morning.
Loprais takes the stage victory on his MAN truck, 4’06 in front of the overall leader, Nikolaev (Kamaz) Beautiful stage for Veslius (MAN), who takes the third position in front of Ardavichus (Kamaz) and Shibalov (Kamaz).
Loprais (MAN): “It was a hard day for me because I had a fever and I thought I was no going to be able to drive. On the track, once I started to run against Kamaz I forgot I was sick.”
Vasilyev (GForce):”It was a fast day, with some sandy portions. I had fun. I am very happy with the stage victory and tomorrow I want to win again, so I will attack!”
Lavieille (Proto Dessoude): “We had to stop to clean the radiation that was covered by herb and bugs about 3 cm thick. For moments we had the impression of being on rollercoaster. Happily our car has a great shock absorbers. We let Varilyev pass us in the steppe. He is going full gas all the time and I tried, but I am not used to take that many risks.”
Nikolaev (Kamaz): “It was a hard stage and very shaky. I controlled my race and tomorrow I will do the same tomorrow. For us this is a great training for the Dakar. It is a pity the TV Helicopter was not around us while we were driving at 150 km/h next to Loprais…”
Alvarez (Toyota Overdrive) “The stage was beautiful and the car worked perfectly. Now that I don’t have pressure to be in the podium anymore I enjoyed, especially during the 60 km that I drove full gas with the trucks of Loprais and Nikolaev.”
Gadasin (GForce): “I was happy that the stage was shortened, because it was very physical. Tomorrow, 3’ take us away from the second step of the podium, and we haven’t decided yet if we will attack or ensure our place in the standings.”
Pelichet (Toyota Overdrive): “We stood on the righ track all the time and I remembered yesterday´s mistake, so sometimes I tried to look for hardened passages in the dunes. This paid off and we did not have to get off of the car. At the end we were hit by a storm but the car worked well in the mud, we chose the right tires. Tomorrow Gadasin goes before us but I will not take unnecessary risks to go get him.”