Stage three of the 2019 Silk Way Rally brought high-speed offroad action to the varied terrain of Mongolia. As the rally left Russia a number of top competitors put in impressive performances to lift themselves up the overall rankings. With numerous challenges still to be faced in Mongolia and China, there’s still plenty to play for at Silk Way.
A third stage victory in as many days has seen Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) make the perfect start to the Silk Way Rally. Al-Attiyah and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA) sped over the Russian border into Mongolia to increase their advantage in the car category. The gap to second place now stands at over 20 minutes.
« Whenever we find ourselves in good condition we try to push. We’re trying to make a gap at the front while we can. Today we were in a good rhythm with no problems, except one flat tyre. » – Nasser Al-Attiyah
Al-Attiyah and Baumel have enough rally-raid experience to know that they will have to guard against complacency on the remaining stages. Yesterday’s retirement of reigning car class champion Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU) proved once again that rally-raid is an extremely unpredictable sport.
The truckers of Team Kamaz Master have had to watch on as their rival Siarhay Viazovich (BLR) helped himself to two early stage wins. Kamaz turned the tables on stage three however, with Andrey Karginov (RUS) the quickest between Ulan-Ude and Ulaanbaatar.
« The only thing that could have given us a problem today was the dust, but we showed we can drive with caution when it’s required. » – Andrey Karginov
The Kamaz truck of Anton Shibalov (RUS) joined Karginov on the stage three podium as the Russian squad start to impose themselves on the overall rankings.
« For sure the dust was main difficulty of today’s stage. » – Anton Shibalov
In the bike race there was another stage win for overnight leader Kevin Benavides (ARG). The Honda rider was followed home by his team-mate Joan Barreda (ESP) who finished second. Red Bull KTM Factory Team riders Luciano Benavides (ARG) and Sam Sunderland (GBR) were third and fourth fastest on the stage.
« I was feeling good, like I have been doing since the beginning of this rally. I’m finding a nice rhythm. » – Luciano Benavides
Kevin Benavides has retained his bike race lead thanks to the stage win on day three of the Silk Way Rally. Sunderland is well placed to put pressure on the leader on tomorrow’s stage.
« It wasn’t the goal to be opening the route today. We had a huge contrast of terrain across a big distance. Oh well, somebody has got to go in front and today that was me. It worked out pretty good. » – Sam Sunderland
Also still in the mix in the bike race are female riders Laia Sanz (ESP) and Anastasiya Nifontova (RUS).
Tomorrow’s fourth stage is a monster 470-kilometre loop around the Ulaanbaatar bivouac. Everything is still on the line as the Silk Way Rally continues its Mongolian debut.
Nasser Al-Attiyah: « Whenever we find ourselves in good condition we try to push. We’re trying to make a gap at the front while we can. Today we were in a good rhythm with no problems, except one flat tyre. The car is working very well. It’s never easy to open the track and push but I trust my co-driver Mathieu (Baumel). We’re both feeling very comfortable and very confident with our jobs right now. »
Sam Sunderland: « It wasn’t the goal to be opening the route today. We had a huge contrast of terrain across a big distance. Oh well, somebody has got to go in front and today that was me. It worked out pretty good. I made one mistake that cost me a couple of minutes, I need to check something in the roadbook with the race organisers. Two times the route was blocked; once with tape and once with wood. That was a bit confusing. When you’re the first bike you’re the first to arrive to these things, it’s easy to doubt what’s going on. These things are always tricker when you’re opening the route, but more or less I was feeling good. »
Luciano Benavides: « I was feeling good, like I have been doing since the beginning of this rally. I’m finding a nice rhythm. The only trouble I had today was getting stuck behind a rider after around 100km. I had to hold back for the next 100km because I didn’t want to be riding in the dust. It’s better to take a sensible decision at this stage of a rally rather than take too much risk. »
Andrey Karginov: « It was my first time in Mongolia and the route was very interesting. There was lots of dust on the stage so I had to careful with the other vehicles we met on the way. There was very little wind so the dust just hung there. Navigation was all fine. The only thing that could have given us a problem today was the dust, but we showed we can drive with caution when it’s required. »
Anton Shibalov: « For sure the dust was main difficulty of today’s stage. We sat 100 metres behind the truck of Maarten Van Den Brink for a long time. It was impossible for him to see us so we could not pass safely. Eventually we got passed, and also passed a MAZ truck. Then we could pick up our speed. »
2019 Silk Way Rally: Stage 3 Results
Car: Top 3
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel – (FRA), Toyota Hilux, 02:23:56
2. Denis Krotov (RUS)/Dmytro Tsyro (RUS) – MINI, +00:06:13
3. Wei Han (CHN)/Liao Min (CHN) – SMG Buggy, +00:06:25…
Bike: Top 3
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG) – Honda, 02:28:14
2. Joan Barreda (ESP) – Honda, +00:00:30
3. Luciano Benavides (ARG) – KTM, +00:01:54…
Truck: Top 3
1. Andrey Karginov (RUS) – Kamaz, 02:26:10
2. Anton Shibalov (RUS) – Kamaz, +00:02:08
3. Siarhay Viazovich (BLR) – MAZ, +00:03:41…
2019 Silk Way Rally: Overall Rankings after Stage 3
Car: Top 3
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) – Toyota Hilux, 05:09:11
2. Kun Liu (CHN)/Hongyu Pan (CHN) – SMG Buggy +00:21:10
3. Wei Han (CHN)/Liao Min (CHN) – SMG Buggy +00:22:55…
Bike: Top 3
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG) – Honda, 05:20:42
2. Sam Sunderland (GBR) – KTM, +00:02:54
3. Joan Barreda (ESP) – Honda, +00:03:09…
Truck: Top 3
1. Siarhay Viazovich (BLR) – MAZ, 05:34:05
2. Andrey Karginov (RUS) – Kamaz, +00:03:16
3. Anton Shibalov (RUS) – Kamaz, +00:06:05…