Today's 6th stage of the Silk Way Rally featured a 408 km special section, minus 130 km of neutralization zone. Many competitors lost their way, and as a result the classification got pretty shaken up.
In the bikes, Portugal's Paulo Goncalves (#4) experienced a serious engine failure after Way Point 3 and he's now out of contention.
A group of riders got lost just after the start of today's second special, including both Benavides brothers, Kevin (#7)and Luciano (#77), and all three riders in the quads. They had to turn back and lost time in the process, finishing as a group.
However, Great Britain's Sam Sunderland (#6) (Red Bull KTM Factory), who opened today's stage, stayed on track mostly, initially doing the same thing as the others who got lost, before checking his compass heading and jumping back over to the right, though he lost time to Oriol Mena (Hero Motorsports) and Polish privateer Adam Tomiczek, who took the podium, along with Joan Barreda. Despite this, Sunderland still leads overall.
“Yesterday when I was going through the road book on the right side they put I think 3,000 metres take compass heading 270 and I found really well the way, even if the other ones don’t find it… . I feel good today, bike is good, so I am happy. Unfortunately at km 50 / 60 Paulo Goncalves had a mechanical problem. I stopped to help him but we couldn’t find the solution so I decided to go,” said Oriol Mena.
In the cars, Nasser Al-Attiyah (#201) (Qat/Toyota Gazoo Racing Overdrive) also lost his way, which resulted in Denis Krotov leading the race for a good while.
Like some of the best bike riders before him, Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel missed, three kilometres after the restart of the special, a difficult to see track heading off on cap 270. Not a major drama, but a big enough one to almost cost him the stage if Krotov hadn't run into difficulties. However, 10 kilometers to the finish, Krotov got a puncture and instead of finishing with a significant advantage, he stopped to change a wheel. He then made another mistake by switching to reverse, which blocked his gear box completely. As a result, the KAMAZ truck of Sergey Kupriyanov towed Krotov's MINI JCW to the finish.
In the end, the Qatari racer made up for lost time and won today's stage, again.
Second place went to Eric Van Loon (NL/Toyota Hilux Overdrive), allowing the Overdrive Team to score another double. The Dutchman finally beat Mathieu Serradori (Buggy CR6 SRT) by just 10 seconds. Overall Al-Attiyah is now 40 minutes ahead of the Chinese driver Liu Kun (Hanwei SMG) and 50 minutes up on Jérôme Pélichet (Optimus Raid Lynx), eighth on today’s stage.
“The special was difficult to navigate. You had to really pay attention. At certain points we hesitated, but in the end everything worked out OK. It is the 6th victory on the trot for us. Tomorrow is relaxed – just 550 kilometres of liaison to go into China, where we will discover the dunes of the Gobi Desert,” said Nasser Al-Attiyah.
In the trucks, the battle between MAZ and KAMAZ continued and competition was as strong as ever, with the winners finishing in close succession. Siarhey Viazovich (#304) (MAZ) and Anton Shibalov (#303) (KAMAZ) finished ahead of the competition with less than 30 seconds between them. But Andrei Karginov (#300) (KAMAZ) spent time changing the wheel and lost his chance at winning today's podium.
“Each day we get speeding penalties. I know I’m not perfect where this is concerned, but this time I really don’t understand. They changed our equipment (GPS), but we never manage to read the correct speed in the danger zones. We try and respect the speed limits, but the fines and penalties keep coming nearly every day,” said Siarhey Viazovich.
Tomorrow's Stage 7 from Dalanzadgad to Bayinbaolige has no selective section, with a border crossing from Mongolia to China and a distance of 551 kilometers. It's not exactly a rest day, but there is no racing, just a liaison to go from Mongolia to China.