The Red Bull Desert Wings are putting on an exhibition of speed and skill over the sands of Kazakhstan. At the midway point of the 2021 Rally Kazakhstan, the Desert Wings squad lead the bike and T3 categories and are also well placed for success in the car race.
Taking control of the bike race on Stage Two was 2018 Dakar Rally champion Matthias Walkner. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider enjoyed a trouble free 280-kilometre trip to the Kenderly bivouac on the shores of the Caspian Sea. A clean ride was so important today as Kenderly is the halfway point of this year’s marathon stage and tonight competitors must carry out any repairs themselves!
« It feels great to be leading the rally, although it’s very close at the top and there are still three days to go. » – Matthias Walkner
Walkner’s KTM team-mate Sam Sunderland is sixth overall after the opening two stages in Kazakhstan. Navigational errors cost Sunderland time today and he’ll be out to correct those mistakes tomorrow.
« With a good start position for stage three, and a long stage ahead of us, I’m hoping I can chase down the guys in front. » – Sam Sunderland
Consistency is paying off for GASGAS factory rider Daniel Sanders in Kazakhstan with the Aussie placing eighth on Stage Two to move up to seventh in the overall provisional classification.
« I completed today’s marathon stage with the bike and myself in good shape, so I’m ready for another go at it tomorrow. » – Daniel Sanders
The bike race results at Rally Kazakhstan will count towards the 2021 FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship.
It’s been a great start to the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for Cristina Gutiérrez of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team. Victory at round one of the World Cup in Andalucia last month is being backed up by an impressive drive in Kazakhstan. At the midway point of this latest rally, Gutiérrez and co-driver Francois Cazalet lead their T3 category and are also the ninth fastest vehicle overall in the race.
« We didn’t have any problems or issues on today’s stage. It was important for it to be this way because today was the first part of the marathon stage. » – Cristina Gutiérrez
The second Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team driver in Kazakhstan is Guillaume de Mevius. De Mevius and his co-driver Tom Colsoul saw their chances of an overall win disappear on Stage One when a technical issue cost them an hour. However the duo roared back on Stage Two to set the fastest time of the T3 race and only narrowly miss out on the overall Top 10.
« Luckily we were able to find a solution on Stage One and now we continue in order to gain experience, especially in the dunes that are quite new for me. » – Guillaume de Mevius
Two Top 5 finishes on the opening stages have put the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy of Mattias Ekström into fourth place overall. The former DTM and WRX champion and co-driver Emil Bergkvist are just 10 minutes off the lead and have three days left to chase down that gap.
« One thing we are having to get used to here in Kazakhstan is being one of the first cars on the road. » – Mattias Ekström
On Friday the Rally Kazakhstan convoy will race a further 331 kilometres against the clock as they compete the marathon stage. Then there’s a further 575 kilometres to cover on the weekend before the chequered flag falls on Sunday, June 13 at the Caspian Riviera Grand Palace.
SELECTED RESULTS AFTER STAGE TWO
1. #208 – SERRADORI M. & MINAUDIER L., 5:53:34.0
2. #207 – ALVAREZ L. & MONLEON A., +6:46.0
3. #203 – AL RAJHI Y. & VON ZITZEWITZ D., +7:09.0
4. #210 – EKSTROM M. & BERGKVIST E., +10:32.0…
1. #235 – GUTIERREZ C. & CAZALET F., 6:43:34.0
2. #234 – LEBEDEV P. & SHUBIN K., +19:29.0
3. #239 – ALVAREZ F. & GIMENO A., +24:32.0
1. #52 – WALKNER M., 6:02:59.0
2. #10 – HOWES S., +22.0
3. #16 – BRANCH R., +59.0
Matthias Walkner: « Another really good day for me, and it was a beautiful stage to race, ending up riding along close to the sea. It feels great to be leading the rally, although it’s very close at the top and there are still three days to go. I’ll keep doing my best each day and keep enjoying it. »
Sam Sunderland: « I made a small mistake, but it ended up costing me a few minutes. The goal now is to try and make a bit of a comeback tomorrow. With a good start position for stage three, and a long stage ahead of us, I’m hoping I can chase down the guys in front. »
Daniel Sanders: « Unfortunately, I made a few mistakes which cost me some time. As the stage was so fast it was then really hard to make any time up, but there’s still three days to go. I’m well placed in the standings, I feel good on the bike, and I completed today’s marathon stage with the bike and myself in good shape, so I’m ready for another go at it tomorrow. »
Cristina Gutiérrez: « Today was a very nice day for us. We didn’t have any problems or issues on today’s stage. It was important for it to be this way because today was the first part of the marathon stage. Tomorrow is a very long day so the most important thing is to have the car in one piece. We are happy and tomorrow we want more. »
Guillaume de Mevius: « It was a difficult first stage in Kazakhstan for Tom and myself. We lost over an hour due to technical issues on our OT3 after approximately 140kms. Luckily we were able to find a solution on Stage One and now we continue in order to gain experience, especially in the dunes that are quite new for me. »
Mattias Ekström: « One thing we are having to get used to here in Kazakhstan is being one of the first cars on the road. This is still a bit unusual for us. It can make things tricky as there are not so many tracks on the ground. »