Kazakhstan SS4: Yazeed Al Rajhi wins the stage

Yazeed Al-Rajhi © X Raid

Nasser Al Attiyah continues to head the Rally Kazakhstan leaderboard as Yazeed Al Rajhi bounces back from yesterday’s roll to claim his first stage win.

The Toyota Hilux Overdrive crew of Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel have maintained their Rally Kazakhstan lead after the fourth of six legs, the duo measuring their pace over the second longest section of the event.

The battle for second position continues to be fierce and today Jakub Przygonski and Timo Gottschalk retook the advantage, the MINI crew moving back into second ahead of Bernhard Ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul.

Today’s 399.24 kilometre section provided yet another mix of conditions, overnight rain adding to the challenge as the crews once again powered over dunes, camel grass, fast muddy tracks and standing water. With nearly 12 minutes in hand this morning, Al Attiyah could afford to be tactical, the Qatari eyeing a second Rally Kazakhstan win and another 2019 victory in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.

« It was a long stage and we didn’t take risks, it wasn’t necessary to push, » said Al Attiyah, who was fifth fastest through the section. « We will have a better road position for tomorrow and can hopefully retake another two or three minutes if possible; we’re just keeping an eye on ‘Kuba’ (Przygonski) and Ten Brinke. »

Przygonski was third fastest, ahead of rival Ten Brinke, to move back up the standings to second overall with exactly one minute separating the two crews. « It was a long but really nice stage, perhaps one of the nicest, » said the Polish reigning World Cup champion. « After the overnight rain the handling [of the car] was very good, the dunes were wet and there were lots of jumps; I really enjoyed this stage and we achieved our target of taking Ten Brinke. »

Ten Brinke slipped from second to third in the overall standings, dropping one minute and 27 seconds to Przygonski but the battle remains intense as the crews fight for precious seconds. « It was a good day, » said the Dutchman who finished the section fourth. « We started second on the road and caught Nasser 100 kilometres into the stage. We were the first car into the dunes but then he passed us again before we retook the lead and ran together. It was good for Tom [co-driver] and me and we’re in a good position to fight for second. »

The husband and wife duo of Stéphane and Andrea Peterhansel also had a good day, the John Cooper Works Buggy crew second fastest to Al Rajhi. « It was a really nice stage and different types of tracks again, » said Stéphane. « There were two sections of dunes and they were easy to cross because the rain made the sand harder. It’s beautiful, but having not done the event before it is different to what I know of cross country; the landscape is very different and the tracks very fast, but it has been nice to drive. »

Miroslav Zapletal and Marek Sykora hold a fine fifth, the leading privateers behind some of the world’s top cross country crews. They are nearly six minutes ahead of the Russian team of Denis Krotov and Dmytro Tsyro, the MINI crew with a significant advantage over Kazakhstan’s Andrey Cherednikov/Ignat Falkov who hold seventh.

Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin have moved up the leaderboard from 10th to eighth and the Brazilians continue to lead the T3 category ahead of their Can Am Maverick rivals Fedor Vorobyev and Kirill Shubin. They are ninth overall and won today’s stage.

Yazeed Al Rajhi and Dirk Von Zitzewitz claimed their first stage win of the event by three minutes, powering their Toyota Hilux Overdrive through the section in 3 hours 43 minutes and 53 seconds. « We had a good day. I didn’t push at the start and was focused on driving well but we pushed more in the last 150 kilometres, » said the Saudi driver who amassed over four hours of penalties last night for breaching service and route regulations. Consequently, he dropped from a provisional seventh to 10th overall today.

Mohammed Al Meer and Alexey Kuzmich continue to lead the T2 category ahead of the penultimate leg of Rally Kazakhstan which takes the crews north from the Aktau bivouac for a 290.19 kilometre section.

Rally Kazakhstan – Provisional results after Leg 4
1. Nasser Al Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel (Toyota Hilux Overdrive), 13hr 09min 33.0sec
2. Jakub Przygonski/Timo Gottschalk (MINI John Cooper Works Rally), 13hr 18min 16.0sec
3. Bernhard Ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul (Toyota Hilux Overdrive), 13hr 19min 16.0sec
4. Stéphane Peterhansel/Andrea Peterhansel (MINI John Cooper Works Buggy), 14r 44min 19.0sec
5. Miroslav Zapletal/Marek Sykora (Ford F-150 Evo), 14hr 40min 24.0sec
6. Denis Krotov/Dmytro Tsyro (MINI John Cooper Works Rally), 14hr 45min 57.0sec
7. Andrey Cherednikov/Ignat Falkov (Ford F-150 Evo), 16hr 01min 48.0sec
8. Reinaldo Varela/Gustavo Gugelmin (Can Am Maverick), 18hr 09min 11.0sec
9. Fedor Vorobyev/Kirill Shubin (Can Am Maverick), 18hr 28min 38.0sec
10. Yazeed Al Rajhi/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (Toyota Hilux Overdrive), 18hr 29min 55.0sec