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Issue 194 • 3 August 2011

Loeb pulls the win off in Finland Start Ramp Service Park Parc Ferme

Burcu Cetinkaya tops female driver rankings Rauno Aaltonen and MINI at WRC Rally Finland Silk Way Rally review

“It seems like Rally Estonia has found its international niche as a good preparation round for the WRC Neste Oil Rally Finland” - Liga Stirna, p13

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Contents Issue 194 • 3 August 2011 04 START RAMP 04 Start Ramp - News Shorts

06 SERVICE PARK 06 Rauno Aaltonen and MINI at Rally Finland 07 Navigator wins Total Economy Run 2011

08 PARC FERME 08 WRC Neste Oil Rally Finland 10 SAORRC Sun City 400 review 12 Silk Way Rally, pt. 2 review


Photojournalist Eva Kovkova

Contributors Liga Stirna, Patrick Vermaak, RallyBuzz, Motorpics, Newspress. All content copyrighted property of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS, 2007-11. This publication is fully protected by copyright and nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the editor. While reasonable precautions have been taken to ensure the accuracy of information from sources and given to readers, the editor cannot accept responsibility for any inconvenience or damage that may arise therefrom.

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Hanninen wary of Loix’s title threat in IRC Words: Staff Writer Defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Juho Hanninen believes Freddy Loix has what it takes to succeed him as this year’s title winner. Hanninen heads BFO-SKODA Rally Team ace Loix in the drivers’ battle by 13 points after six rounds. With the Finn not targeting a title defence in 2011 due to other rallying commitments, the SKODA Motorsport pilot has tipped the Belgian veteran to join the illustrious list of IRC champions this season. “We saw last year that he is so strong on Tarmac and he can win the rest of the Tarmac events this year,” said Hanninen. “He was clever [to win in Zlin] and he knows how to get the points because of his experience. He’s definitely one of the biggest challengers for the championship – I think he can win it – but it depends on what happens if he does not do Scotland and Cyprus [the closing rounds of the season which award bonus points].” Loix, 40, has made four appearances in the IRC this season, winning the GEKO Ypres Rally in June and claiming podium finishes on Rallye Monte-Carlo and Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc alongside co-driver Frederic Miclotte. Hanninen has also talked up team-mate Jan Kopecky’s title chances, adding: “Jan will also be strong in the championship – we know what he can do.” H&H

Burcu Cetinkaya tops female leader board in WR Rankings Words: Staff Writer Turkish driver Burcu Cetinkaya and Austrian co-driver Ilka MinorPetrasko are in first place in the IRDA (International Rally Drivers Association) female world rankings after seven months of events all over the world. There are 23 female drivers from all over the world who, thanks to the sporting results they have obtained, have entered the World Rally Ranking, coming from three continents, Africa, Europe and Oceania, the first 10 are: 01) Burcu Cetinkaya – 798pts 02) Ekaterina Stratieva – 521pts =03) Melissa Debackere – 252pts =03) Burcu Burkut Erenkul – 252pts 05) Susan Muwonge – 248pts 06) Emma Gilmour – 232pts 07) Asja Zupanc – 222pts 08) Laureen Marufu – 216pts 09) Michelle Fortman – 207pts 10) Louise Cook – 200pts There are many more female co-drivers from all over the world who have entered the standings, 188, coming from all the five continents, the first 10 are: 01) Ilka Minor – 1986pts 02) Anna Andreussi – 1840pts 03) Sandra Arlettaz – 1169pts 04) Katharina Wustenhagen – 1155pts 05) Sabrina de Castelli – 996pts 06) Rebeca Moreno – 840pts 07) Cicek Guney – 798pts 08) Ursala Mayrhofer – 774pts 09) Karin Thannhauser – 748pts 10) Anna Zavershinskaya – 668pts There are currently 1,635 drivers

featured in the World Ranking, of which women only represent about 1,5 %, while lady codrivers are more numerous, representing 11,2% of the total of 1,683 codrivers. The IRDA World Rally Ranking contains all the results from January 1st 2010 to date of all the drivers and codrivers from all over the world of all the events which are part of the FIA International Sporting Calendar. To see all the standings of the World Rally Ranking please visit H&H

Bouffier still aims to win IRC Words: Staff Writer Bryan Bouffier has refused to give up on his dream of winning the Intercontinental Rally Challenge title following his exclusion from the GEKO Ypres Rally, round five of the series, in July. Bouffier and co-driver Xavier Panseri finished second overall on the challenging asphalt rally in Belgium aboard their Peugeot France 207 S2000. However, post-event technical checks revealed the car’s steering contravened FIA regulations due to an error in assembly. It means Bouffier slips from second to fourth in the IRC drivers’ standings, 22 points adrift of leader Juho Hänninen. ŠKODA’s advantage over Peugeot in the manufacturers’ battle has widened to 63 points. “Of course we are disappointed but the season is far from being over,” said Bouffier, the winner of the IRC season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo. “We just have to push to the limit to get the title.” H&H




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Service Park

Interviews Features

Profiles Technical

Rauno Aaltonen supported MINI WRC Team on his home rally Words: Staff Writer Picture: MINI Mortorsport With the World Rally Championship visiting his home turf this past weekend, it would have been inconceivable that Rauno Aaltonen would not be on the Neste Oil Rally Finland to give support to the next generation of MINI drivers. He was there to repay the compliment after Dani Sordo and Kris Meeke went to see him on the Historic Monte Carlo Rally in January. A very happy Aaltonen explained his role with MINI: “As a representative of MINI I have the honour to be here for both the road going MINI for the normal people and, as you know the rally people are not quite normal, so for them we have this MINI John Cooper Works WRC car. I think this is fantastic as in Finland the word MINI is synonymous with the word winning, and now, of course, the whole of Finland is expecting the MINI to win. However, we have to be realistic and understand that no car has ever won a world championship rally during its first year. I think we are doing very well indeed and the spectators say it is so nice and it is going well and they are all very pleased.” Aaltonen has spent the three days of the rally both in and around

the event’s headquarters in the central Finnish town of Jyväskylä, and in the Lahti region for Saturday’s remote service. He is no stranger to the rally as when he was rallying a Mini in the sixties he has been on the podium on this event that was then known as the Rally of the 1000 Lakes. His packed schedule has included wishing the two MINI WRC Team crews – Sordo and Carlos del Barrio with their no. 37 MINI John Cooper Works WRC and Meeke and Paul Nagle in no. 52 – good luck when they left the service park each morning. He has also featured on TV and radio as a real expert on everything about MINI in rallying and the sport in Finland. He presented a MINI Countryman to two of his fellow Finns, Arttu Pihlainen, the world’s fastest downhill skater who won the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship, and Peetu Piiroinen, a successful snowboarder who won the Burton Global Open Series. They won these cars, which were given by BMW Suomi Oy, in races last winter and both have been customised according to the winners’ designs. Rauno Aaltonen was born in Finland in 1938 and started his rallying career in 1956. In a long and illustrious career he has been famous for not only winning the European Rally

Championship in a Mini Cooper S in 1965, but also going on to win the third Monte Carlo Rally victory with the car. The first win on this famous event for the team was in 1964 for Paddy Hopkirk, then the next year it was Timo Mäkinen and Aaltonen’s win came in 1967. They were known as the ‘Three Musketeers’ H&H and Aaltoen the ‘Rally Professor’.

Issue 194 • 3 August 2011 • Page 07

Navigator wins on Total Economy Run 2011 Words: Staff Writer Picture: Brenda Garth-Davis The Challenge: Team Total’s four crews competed in the 35th edition of the Total Economy Run this past weekend. With 50 crews from 18 manufacturers all vying for top honours in their categories, South Africa’s largest privateer rally team was undaunted by the test. This year’s overall petrol category victory was a shock surprise for all competitors, and Team Total was at the centre of the action. Robbie Coetzee and Craig Trott snatched the overall petrol category honours in this motorsport event. The route of 1109km over the two days of competition in and around Thaba ‘Nchu in the Free State saw Team Total’s four crews entering this event with no previous experience of the technical nature, the strategising and the navigating required for this. Of course, Team Total also had to curb their enthusiasm when it came to the use of the accelerator pedal in order to be in the running for the cup in the Total Economy Run 2011. Adding to the complexity of the contest, Team Total’s sponsor further tested the crews: the team’s rally drivers and co-drivers swapped roles for this event, meaning that co-drivers were now in control of the steering wheel and the regular rally drivers were to read the route notes and plot their speed.

The Total Economy Run is the only legitimate and unbiased measure of fuel efficiency for passenger vehicles in South Africa. In the red-hot heat of a battle for podium in the South African Rally Championship demands not fuel efficiency as a determining factor for victory but rather performance and speed. To drive slowly, with the rally crews’ roles swapped and no gravel roads to attack, Team Total readily accepted the dare to prove their adaptability to the very different form of rallying and to optimize the performance and fuel efficiency of their vehicles. The Crews: Currently leading Class S1600 and the Junior National Rally Championship, Robbie Coetzee and Craig Trott steered their Toyota Aygo to victory in their Class and also to claim the overall petrol category honours with a fuel consumption of 5.191 litres/100km. Coetzee, in his first Motorsport South Africa-sanctioned event as a driver, was thrilled at the announcement of his win. It was undoubtedly a team effort, as navigators play a large role in the car. “It is unbelievable to win this great event; it is my first motorsport event as a driver, and I won,” said Robbie Coetzee. He continued with a chuckle: “I think this is a good move from Team Total, and something for them to consider for the future as the team will be saving on tyres and fuel.” In a similar Toyota Aygo and

finished third overall in the petrol category, Angela Shields and Stefanie Botha were thrilled with their podium result. It was a close battle for the top positions it turns out, with the top three crews separated by just 2.3 litres as their Toyota Aygo consumed just 5.371 litres/100km. A healthy competition grew amongst the Team Total crews, with Carolyn Swan and Jean-Pierre Damseaux finishing eighth overall in the petrol category in a Nissan Micra 1.2 with a fuel consumption of just 5.841 litres/100km. Grant Martin and Mohammed Moosa competed in a BMW 125i Covertible, and recorded a Class victory and finished 30th overall in the petrol category with a fuel consumption of 8.376 litres/100km. As with the Total Evolution fuels used by the rally team on this event and in their high-performance rally machines, Team Total has proven its performance and efficiency to their rivals in 2011. The Next Event: Team Total will be in action on the Garden Route Rally on 26 – 27 August, in the Western Cape. Round Six of the eight-event series will take place in and around Knysna and George. Follow Team Total: For news, photographs and stage-bystage results on the South African Rally Championship, visit us on Facebook at and on Twitter at H&H

Parc Ferme

Event Reports Results

The Loeb Show does it again in Finland Words: Evan Rothman Pictures: Eva Kovkova Sebastien Loeb (Citroën Total World Rally Team) has extended his lead at the top of the Word Rally Championship to 27pts following a stunning second win on the WRC Neste Oil Rally Finland ahead of rivals Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team) and Sebastien Ogier (Citroën Total World Rally Team). This iconic and famous event started on Thursday with three special stages. Loeb claimed the overnight lead by 2.8sec over the chasing field, to open the 2011 edition of the Neste Oil Rall Finland in dramatic fashion on the high speed gravel stages outside of Jyvaskyla. Ogier made his intentions clear from the first stage: “There is only one man who is important for me for the championship and that is Seb Loeb. My goal is to try and beat Seb [Loeb].” Latvala ended Day One in third behind Ogier, and only 4.4sec adrift of

the leader. The Finn employed tactics on SS2 to give himself a more favourable road position on Day Two. Teammate Mikko Hirvonen suffered a nightmare start to his Rally Finland, when he went off in SS1 and hit a tree. He damaged the car’s rear brakes and suspension, as well asmomentarily losing drive and power from the engine. He lost 02min 02.7sec over the next two stages as a result. Sensational Jari Ketomaa, making his debut in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was fastest of all on SS1, but he slowed his pace on SS2 to secure a more favourable road position on Day Two. “I don’t like doing tactics but it’s a long day tomorrow and I don’t want to be first on the road.” For Day Two, Loeb ended the first full day of competition in Finland ahead of his teammate by 1.5sec and 2.6sec ahead of Ford’s Latvala. His Day One overnight lead shrank from 2.8sec due to his road-sweeping duties. In fact, Ogier lead Loeb at the start of the day’s final superspecial stage in Lahti,

but both crews pulled out tactics... Loeb firstly checked into the stage one minute late (and incurred a 10sec penalty) to confuse Ogier. Ogier then responded by slowing his car just before the finish, and forcing Loeb to run first on the road for Day Three. Hirvonen began Day Two in 36th position overall, but put on a stunning drive (including five fastest stage times) to bring himself within striking distance of the top five crews albeit 01min 28.78s off the Loeb. On the final day of the event, Loeb managed to extend his lead and stave off Latvala’s challenges to win this event for the second time in his career and increase his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 27pts for his 66th WRC career win. He is now the first nonScandinavian to have won this unique event twice, and only one of three nonScandinavians to have won this event in its illustrious history. For Loeb, who was forced to run first on the road throughout the weekend, his overnight lead of 1.5sec

Issue 194 • 3 August 2011 • Page 09

of Ogier was not eaten up by the young Frenchman as overnight rain cancelled out the road-sweeping effect and even assisted Loeb in maintaining his lead. Ogier suffered a left-front puncture on SS17 and this gave Loeb the breathing space he wanted. However, Latvala closed in on him on the fina afternoon loop of stages, reeling in handfuls of seconds in each stage. It was, however, too little too late for Latvala and Loeb was able to secure his win 66th win. “It feels very good,” said Loeb at the finish of the event-closing Power Stage. “For sure it was a very difficult race with the other drivers dropping behind me to make me clean the road. But finally we won and in the end it was a big relief and maybe the best win of my career.” “It was a tough weekend and I woke up a little bit too late,” said Latvala. “Of course it’s a disappointment not to win, but it’s been a great rally.” Mikko Hirvonen started the first of Day Three’s 11 stages in sixth position and almost one minute behind fourthplaced Petter Solberg. But a combination

of Hirvonen’s pace - he was fastest on eight stages again - and differential problems for a lacklustre Solberg allowed the Finn to snatch fourth in the second factory Fiesta. He also bagged the three bonus points for winning the Power Stage. Mads Ostberg impressed at the wheel of his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta RS WRC. Although the Ostberg’s bid to demote his fellow Norwegian Petter Solberg for fifth ultimately failed, he nevertheless set several strong stage times. “I am very happy because we were able to mix it with the big five on this rally,” said Ostberg, who wore a black armband throughout the rally as a mark of respect to the victims of the twin terror attack in his country recently. Super 2000 World Rally Championship winner Juho Hanninen completed the point scorers in 10th overall at the wheel of his Red Bull Skoda. An overheating problem forced MINI WRC Team bosses to retire Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo before the finish. Both drivers had been on course for the top 10 before they hit trouble following

an extremely encouraging display by the John Cooper Works WRCs. Neither of the two Volkswagen Motorsport-run Skoda Fabias reached the finish. Joonas Lindroos crashed out on Day Two, while a broken radiator forced Andreas Mikkelsen’s retirement at the end of SS17.

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION 01) S. Loeb/D. Elena Citroën DS3 WRC - 02h 39m 37.0s 02) J-M. Latvala/M. Anttila Ford Fiesta RS WRC + 08.1s 03) S. Ogier/J. Ingrassia Citroën DS3 WRC + 12.8s 04) M. Hirvonen/M. Anttila Ford Fiesta RS WRC + 01m 09.1s 05) P. Solberg/C. Patterson Citroën DS3 WRC + 01m 16.2s 06) M. Ostberg/J. Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC + 01m 27.8s 07) H. Solberg/I. Minor Ford Fiesta RS WRC + 03m 25.5s 08) M. Wilson/S. Martin Ford Fiesta RS WRC + 03m 53.2s 09) K. Räikkönen/K. Lindström Citroën DS3 WRC + 03m 59.8s 10) J. Hänninen/M. Markkula Skoda Fabia S2000 + 05m 13.7s

Issue 194 • 3 August 2011 • Page 10

Rookie claims first win at Sun City 400 Words: Staff Writer Pictures: Motorpics Special Vehicle Category: A slice of off-road history was made this past weekend when rookie driver Richard Fuller and Geoff Minnitt powered to a surprise Special Vehicle victory on the Sun City 400, round five of the Absa off-Road Racing Championship. In only his fifth off-road race, Fuller and the experienced Minnitt joined the band of crews to have won Absa national championship events in a Class P car. It was an incredible weekend for the Atlas Copco BAT pair. Fuller and Minnitt also won the Donaldson Prologue on Friday and their victory completed a dominant weekend. “I am lost for words,” said Fuller at the finish. “Towards the end of the second loop the road opened up beautifully and it turned into the perfect race for us. It was a tight and technical route with plenty of dust but the car was perfect, Geoff did a great job and I am over the moon.” Fuller/Minnitt led home Hermann and Wichard Sullwald (Sullwald Racing SVR) in a result that saw the Phalaborwa-based team maintain the pressure on reigning South African Champions and current championship leaders Kallie and Quintin Sullwald in the Elegant Fuel BAT. The difference between first and second was a little over three minutes. The second Sullwald crew came home 11th overall to salvage what could turn out to be crucial points at the end

of the season. They started the day 15th in Class A and at one stage were up to fourth before losing time after falling into a ditch. The other podium place originally went to a rejuvenated Evan Hutchison/Danie Stassen (Motorite Revo), who scythed through the field after starting 21st among the Special Vehicles. Problems for other crews and a storming run on the second of the two 200km loops that made up the race, lifted the Motorite crew up the pecking order. The Motorite pair were then penalised five minutes for deviating from the route, and that dropped them to tenth overall and seventh in Class A. Hutchison/Stassen lost a protest to the race stewards, and the decision elevated Boela Botes/Johann Pretorius (Botes Vervoer BAT) into third and gave the Delmas crew their first podium finish. John Thomson/Clinton McNamara also moved up a notch in the Zarco. The Swazi pair were packing for home after Friday’s Prologue but were given a reprieve when the Gibson team from KwaZulu-Natal lent them a new clutch. Next up were Mark Corbett/ Rudi Balzer (Century Racing CR4), Archie Rutherford/Mike Lawrenson (Regent Racing Jimco) and Clint Gibson/ Gary Campbell in the Gibson Racing Porter. Rutherford/Lawrenson were third in Class P behind Fuller/Minnitt and Thomson/McNamara in a result that saw them consolidate their position at the top of the Class Championship.

The biggest losers on the event were David and Gary White in the Ruwacon Racing BAT. They led the Special Vehicles after the first loop but then a puncture delayed them and the unfortunate pair eventually trailed home in eighth place overall. Major casualties were Nick and Ryan Harper in the Motorite BAT, Johan van Staden/James Rossouw (Atlas Copco BAT) and Colin Matthews/Alan Smith in the Century Racing CR3. The Harpers lost ground in the championship when they dropped out with radiator problems, while van Staden/Rossouw and Matthews/Smith both retired after a coming together that left van Staden suffering from concussion. The Class B honours went to the father and daughter pair of Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne in the Raysonics Zarco. They had a 21 minute cushion over brothers Keith and Andrew Makenete, in another Zarco, with veteran Wolf Peter-Pfumfei third in the singleseater WPP. Production Car Category: Team Castrol Toyota pair Duncan Vos/ Rob Howie surged to the top of the Production Vehicle championship when they won a dramatic Sun City 400. Provisional results saw Vos/ Howie come home 04min 38sec ahead of veterans Hannes Grobler/Hennie ter Stege to jump from seventh in the Championship to the top of the table. Mike Whitehouse/Mathew Carlson (Regent Racing Nissan Navara) and Chris Visser/Japie Badenhorst (Team Ford

Issue 194 • 3 August 2011 • Page 11

Ranger TDCi), who led the championship going into the Sun City race, were among the race casualties and this has led to a reshuffle at the top of the points log. Vos/Howie reported a clean run but Grobler/ter Stege battled clutch and gearbox problems throughout the second of the two 200km loops that made up the race. The veteran pair, however, had five minutes in hand over Malcolm Kock/Johann Burger (Kock and Sons Toyota Hilux) who were over the moon with a maiden podium finish which was achieved despite a confrontation with a tree. A hard earned fourth for Thomas Rundle/Juan Mohr, who started the day 11th among the SP Class entries and 13th overall, lifted them into second place in the Championship five and a half points behind Vos/Howie. Terence Marsh/George Smalberger, in the second Regent Racing Nissan Navara, produced a typically steady performance to come home in fifth place and move into third in the Championship at the expense of teammates Whitehouse/Carlson. There was plenty of chopping and changing and drama among the frontrunners. Donaldson Prologue winners Gary Bertholdt/Andre Vermeulen (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) were early casualties with fuel pressure problems, and then Visser/Badenhorst hit a tree and were forced to retire. That left reigning Class E champions Pikkie Labuschagne/Rikus Erasmus as surprise leaders ahead of Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn (Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux) at the end of the first loop. Loop two produced tales of woe

for both Labuschagne/Erasmus and the de Bruyn father and son combination. A loose earth wire cost the Ruwacon crew around 25min and dropped them to 10th overall, while mechanical problems put paid to the de Bruyn challenge. Gearbox problems hit Whitehouse/Carlson, who arrived at Sun City leading the Championship by half a point, on the Donaldson Prologue and they were forced to start from the back of the field. An engine problem then put them out of the running early in the race. There was also an outstanding performance from Louis Weichelt/Francis Boersma (N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser). They scored their second Class D win of the season and came in 01min 27sec ahead of reigning champions Deon Venter/Ian Palmer (4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux). Mpumalanga brothers Johan and Werner Horn (Malelane Toyota Land Cruiser) were a solid third and had a sizeable cushion over championship leaders Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen in a Land Rover. The Oosthuizens, however, maintained their 100 percent finish record. There was also a second win this season for Diederik Hattingh/Kristo Bosman (Transcor Toyota Hilux) in Class E. They came in ahead of Bloemfontein crew Gerald le Roux/Willem Pretorius (Ruwacon Ford Ranger) with teenagers Jason Venter/Vincent van Allerman third in the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. For Venter, the son of Deon Venter and Van Allerman, it was their second podium finish in two races. The young pair made their national debut on

the recent Toyota 1000 Desert Race.

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION Special Vehicles Category: 01) R. Fuller/G. Minnitt BAT - 05h 05m 37s 02) H. Sullwald/W. Sullwald SVR - 05h 08m 52s 03) B. Botes/J. Pretorius BAT - 05m 14m 56s 04) J. Thomson/C. McNamara Zarco Magnum - 05h 16m 20s 05) M. Corbett/R. Balzer CR4 - 05h 16m 40s 06) A. Rutherford/M. Lawrenson Jimco - 05h 17m 24s 07) C. Gibson/G. Campbell Porter - 05h 18m 27s 08) D. White/G. White BAT - 05h 18m 32s 09) N. Moosajee/R. Bodhanya Porter - 05h 19m 18s 10) E. Hutchison/D. Stassen Revo 4X4 - 05h 19m 36s Production Vehicles Category: 01) D. Vos/R. Howie Toyota Hilux - 05h 05m 53s 02) H. Grobler/H. Ter Stege BMW X3 - 05h 10m 31s 03) M. Kock/J. Burger Toyota Hilux - 05h 15m 29s 04) T. Rundle/J. Mohr Nissan Navara - 05h 17m 40s 05) T. Marsh/G. Smalberger Nissan Navara - 05h 20m 34s 06) L. Weichelt/F. Boersma Toyota Land Cruiser - 05h 22m 20s 07) L. Woolridge/W. Huxtable Ford Ranger - 05h 22m 42s 08) D. Venter/I. Palmer Toyota Hilux - 05h 23m 47s 09) J. Horn/W. Horn Toyota Land Cruiser - 05h 38m 05s 10) P. Labuschagne/R. Erasmus Toyota Hilux - 05h 39m 20s


Issue 194 • 3 August 2011 • Page 12

Silk Way Rally, pt 2: Lady Luck Words: Staff Writer Pictures: Eva Kovkova Running as part of the Dakar Series, the Silk Way, now in its third edition, ran from 10 - 16 July. A test for the Dakar Rally Argentina-Chile, the Silk Way Rally is in its own right one of the world’s most punishing and chalenging motorsport events. Staged from Moscow to Sochi, this seven-leg adventure was captured by Handbrakes & Hairpins’ talented photojournalist Eva Kovkova. Stage Four: Everyone knows that Stéphane Peterhansel (MINI ALL4 Racing) excels when the going gets tough; its no accident if one is able to win nine Dakar Rallies - first on two wheels and then on four. On this stage, the Frenchman proved this once again during the fourth stage of the 2011 Silk Way Rally. Peterhansel drove flawlessly throughout the special stage on the

400km route which was made even more taxing by the afternoon heat. Despite not making the slightest mistake, the Frenchman spent a little over six hours inside his MINI, which had become a furnace under the blazing sun. Nevertheless, it was precisely these difficult conditions which helped him prevail and take his second stage win of the event, 09min 04sec ahead of his teammate Krzysztof Hołowczyc (BMW). The Pole become stuck at in the stage after 275km and almost lost the runners-up position, with Russian Alexander Zheludov (Nissan Frontier) finishing only 20sec back. The stage’s bad news concerned Russian Alexander Mironenko (BMW). The Russian driver got stuck several times, losing over 02 hours and therefore the second place on the leader board he held when he set at the start of the rally. Frenchman Christian Lavieille (Nissan Hardbody) also had a bad day at the office. Following a steering malfunction shortly after CP1,

the Dessoude driver had no choice but to leave the special stage after performing makeshift repairs. This led to him being disqualified from the race by the officials for not respecting the route. Hołowczyc still has a very comfortable lead of 02h 02min in the general classification, but he is now followed by his teammate Peterhansel, who has a slim margin of 03min 31sec over Zheludov. The podium is still up for grabs... Just as in the in the truck category! Stage Four was marked by Aleš Loprais (Tatra), who made up for Stage Three’s navigational mistake by beating Kabirov and Karginov’s Kamaz’s for the win by 14min 46sec and 18min 26sec, respectively. This is the Czech’s first stage win in 2011, and it also allowed him to take the third place in the classification from Hans Stacey, who suffered from mechanical problems. As for the general classification, Firdaus Kabirov was able to defend his lead with ease. He now has 45min 11sec lead over his teammate Andrey

Issue 194 • 3 August 2011 • Page 13

Karginov, who is only 02min 40sec ahead of Loprais! Stage Five: Things are looking good: after what were two especially difficult stages, the race organisers decided to approve the competitors’ request to shorten the route of stage five by 68km, leaving 621km of timed sections. However, this was clearly not enough to loosen the top drivers’ grip on the race. Krzysztof Hołowczyc (BMW), Peterhansel (MINI) and Zheludov (Nissan Frontier) once again fought among themselves for the stage win. It became a handicap race when each of them suffered from mechanical problems. The Pole had a flat tyre, the Frenchman had engine cooling issues and the Russian had a GPS malfunction... At the end, it was overall leader Hołowczyc who prevailed and took his second stage victory in this rally, 02min 49sec ahead of Peterhansel. But, the great loser was Zheludov. The former pilot held the lead at CP3, but he then had a GPS

malfunction and preferred to slow down in order to avoid incurring penalties for speeding or missing waypoints, until the race direction cleared him to progress via Iritrack. Unfortunately, this problem ended up costing him 37min and any reasonable chance of winning back Peterhansel’s second place on the leader board. One man’s sunset is another man’s dawn, in this case Alexander Mironenko’s (BMW) who contributed to the X-Raid team’s complete dominance of the stage: three cars in the top three. He finished just ahead of Stéphane Henrard, who once again flaunted his Volkswagen buggy’s performance on fast stages. Things are now quite clear in the general classification, where Hołowczyc has a margin of 02h 02min over Peterhansel, who in turn is 37min clear of Zheludov. The leader in the trucks category also made a big leap towards the victory on this stage. Indeed, in this especially strong category, Kabirov (Kamaz) made a statement by becoming

the first truck driver to seize a second stage win in the 2011 Silk Way Rally. On his way to the win, the leader took advantage of Loprais (Tatra) faltering towards the end of the stage. Loprais’ co-driver suffered from severe headaches after having been shaken around at high speed. As a result, Kabirov came in ahead of the Franz Echter (MAN), who claimed second place on this stage with 03min 10sec behind the winner. Nevertheless, the Czech with the yellow truck is pretty much isolated in second place, 52min 08sec behind Kabirov, but 43min 16sec ahead of the other Kamaz in the provisional top three, that of Andrey Karginov. Chickens should not be counted before they hatch. While the current time differences may seem unassailable under normal circumstances, the race is still not over and the leaders still have the most difficult sections ahead of them. They will have to manage their lead until Sochi without making catastrophic mistakes while maintaining a high pace. And, all drivers dread this

Issue 194 • 3 August 2011 • Page 14

rigorous test of concentration... Stage Six: The Russian car drivers had only seized one stage win since the beginning of the race, when Zheludov and his Nissan Frontier prevailed in stage one. It must be said that the 2011 Silk Way Rally has been especially difficult for the top local team, G-Force. Its leader Boris Gadasin left the race early due to an engine breakdown, and Ukrainian Bogdan Novitsky was disqualified later on. The Russian team’s third and only remaining driver, Vladimir Vasiliev, set the record straight during stage six. The Russian put the pedal on the metal from the very beginning of the stage, and also benefitted from MINI driver Peterhansel’s flat tyre and Zheludov’s cooling problems. He saved the Slavs’ honour, finishing 01min 14sec ahead of Peterhansel and 06min 48sec ahead of leader Hołowczyc. With a margin in excess of two hours on the leader board, the Polish driver had more

to lose than to gain on thsi stage, so he preferred to drive conservatively during the fast special stage. Nevertheless, he still has a very comfortable buffer in the general classification, where he lies 01h 59min 28sec ahead of his teammate Peterhansel and 03h 24min 33sec ahead of Zheludov. Things could have turned out much worse if the truck leader Kabirov had not stopped and towed him to safety. On the other hand, Russian drivers continue to flaunt their vice grip on the truck category. This stage’s winner Ayrat Mardeev (Kamaz) took the fifth local victory in six stages, which was also his second individual win in this rally. He only just beat Hans Stacey (Iveco, 21sec back) and his teammate Andrey Karginov (Kamaz, 02min 48sec). After playing the role of the Good Samaritan on the trail, Kabirov lost 16min 11sec to the stage winner, but this is just a small bite off his lead in the general classification where he sits 43min 19sec ahead of Loprais (Tatra)

and 01h 21min 55sec ahead of Karginov. Stage Seven: A finale worthy of the event’s status! The finish of the 2011 Silk Way Rally has come to a close before a crowd of thousands at Sochi’s Polyana Grand Hotel in the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The big crowd saw Hołowczyc (BMW) and Loprais (Tatra) climb onto the top step of the podium at the end of a race which was very eventful from the beginning to the end. In the car category, Hołowczyc benefitted greatly from the mechanical problems which cost Peterhansel (MINI) 02h 24min in the first stage, but the Pole was still able to effectively manage his advantage and did not make any mistakes on the trail. This earned him his first win in a one-week race and represents a watershed moment for him since he will now be counted among the regular contenders vying for victory. Not only did he finish ahead of Peterhansel, he actually beat the Frenchman by 01h

Issue 194 • 3 August 2011 • Page 15

59min 28sec. But on the Sochi podium, all eyes were on Zheludov (Nissan Frontier) third in the final classification (03h 24min 33sec back) and, most importantly, the first Russian! The 2011 Silk Way Rally also was a breakthrough moment for Loprais in the truck category. So far, the Czech had never managed to finish higher than third in an international race, which he did in the 2007 Dakar and the 2009 Silk Way Rally. But he has finally been able to take a big win and stake his claim with a view to the next Dakar. Although the race was finally decided on a technicality the evening after the sixth stage, when Russian Firdaus Kabirov (Kamaz) was handed a one hour penalty for speeding during the liaison section, Loprais still is a deserving winner. He was the only driver able to stand up to the Kamaz’s dominance on their home turf, and prevented them from snapping up all of the specials by taking the fourth stage win. The Kamazs’ had to settle for the other podium places, with

Kabirov finishing second, 16min 41sec behind Loprais. Karginov (Kamaz) was a deserving third, 38min 36sec back on his international debut. H&H


Start RampStartRamp Parc FermeParcFerme Service ParkServicePark RaunoAaltonenandMINIatWRCRallyFinland Issue 194 • 3 August 2011Issue194•3Aug...