Russian Vladimir Vasilyev moved within sight of his first victory in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Powered by Nissan today.
Partnered by Konstantin Zhilstov in a Mini, Vasilyev recorded the second fastest time on the spectacular 239-km Nissan Patrol Special Stage 4 to open up a lead of 35 mins 36 secs from Poland’s Adam Malysz and Rafal Marton in a Toyota Hilux.
Lying second overnight, the Polish crew of Marek Dabrowski and Jacek Czachor saw their hopes of at least a podium finish shattered when their Toyota Hilux rolled on the stage, with the car landing on its wheels and reaching the finish well down the field.
Dabrowski’s misfortune saw Dutchman Eric Van Loon climb to third in his Mini, with the UAE’s evergreen Yahya Alhelei rising to fourth place in his new Nissan Pick Up, despite having to reduce his speed because of overheating.
Vasilyev reached the end of the Nissan Patrol stage to say: “It was a really beautiful stage, but hard with some really high and steep dunes to climb. This year it is more difficult because the ground is hard after the rains.”
Alhelei, who had desperately wanted to win the Nissan stage, said: “I drove with a flat tyre for the last 30km yesterday and damaged the head gasket. We changed it overnight and I was worried that the car might overheat today.
“Everything was ok up to the second passage control but then the temperature started going up so I had to reduce my speed. I just wanted to win the Nissan prize for the fastest on this stage.”
Provisional leading positions after Nissan Patrol Special Stage 4
1. Vladimir Vasilyev / K. Zhilstov (RUS /RUS) MINI All 4 Racing T1 14:35.38
2. Adam Malysz / Rafal Marton (POL / POL) Toyota Hilux T1 15:11.14
3. Miroslav Zapletal / Maciej Marton (CZE / POL) Hummer H3 T1 15:41.14
4. Yahya Alhelei / Khalid Alkendi (ARE / ARE) Nissan Pick UP T1 15:45.07
5. Stephan Schott / A. Schulz (DEU / DEU) MINI All 4 Racing T1 15:59.40
6. Eric Van Loon / W. Rosegaar (NED / NED) MINI All 4 Racing T1 16:27.37
7. Bauyrzhan Issabayev / Vladimir Demyanenko (KAZ/ RUS) T1 16:53.37
8. Reinaldo Varela / Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA / BRA) Toyota Hilux T1.1 17:58.50
9. Denis Berezovskiy / Ignat Falkov (KAZ / KAZ) Nissan Patrol T2.1 18:23.54
10. Aidyn Rakhimbayev / A.Nikolaev (KAZ / RUS) MINI All 4 Racing T1.2 18:27.17