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vyazma

According to one version ‘The swampy place’ (swampy – vyazkoe, rus.) is the root of Vyazma’s name. But in another version it was named after the river Vyazma. The fact is that it is situated in the upper reaches of the great rivers like Dnieper, Volga and Northern Dvina and links all those rivers together to some extent. Since ancient times Vyazma has been located in a very convenient place at the crossroads of the historical trading ways ‘From the Varangians to the Greeks’ which allowed Vyazma to become an important trading center. Merchants from Veliky Novgorod, Moscow, Tver and Suzdal came through here, and the other direction tradesmen from Vyazma went to Crimea and Byzantium, Livonia and Poland. No wonder that due to the convenient location different countries and principalities claimed for the town. In the 13th and 14th centuries Vyazma was mentioned in the chronicles about the warfare for the lands of Smolensk between Lithuania, Poland and Muscovy. In the beginning of the 15th century Vyazma was considered to be a part of the Lithuanian princedom, then at the end of the century the town was returned and became the part of Russia again. In 1494 once and forever it was captured by Muscovy. In the times of Ivan the Terrible Vyazma was a part of the parliamentary cities and became a large military base in the Livonian War. Weapons were stored in local warehouses and Russian troops took rest here. During the Patriotic War of 1812 there was a significant battle between the Russian army and the retreating units of Napoleon’s army. During the battle the city was completely destroyed, there were no unbroken buildings at all. There are two monuments to commemorate the Russian victory over Napoleon in Vyazma. The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 added more tragic pages to Vyazma’s chronicles as violent battles took place here. For several years the town was occupied by the German army. In 2009 Vyazma was named a ‘City of Military Glory of Russia’. Today Vyazma is known as the native land of the ‘Rus’ aviation aerobatics team. The team’s fighters are capable of flying one meter apart from each other, and the pilots make such difficult maneuvers in the sky, that those watching their show are amazed.

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ss-3 krasivaya mecha

vyazma – lipetsk The fog chased the organizers and participants of the Silk Way. It was as thick as a blanket and soaked the tents in the bivouac and in the morning the sky was as thick as whipped cream, so the helicopters were grounded for almost two hours. However, the starting time was delayed for only thirty minutes. It was possible to synchronize a watch with the participants. They arrived to the start of the special stage located in the fields of Tula Region exactly on time. Some drivers took advantage of the delay and had a little nap, but the delay was so short that no one got bored. As soon the helicopters with the starting commissioners were seen in the sky, the crews got ready for action.

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The day before the organizers announced the starting and finishing locations to the public, and all the spectators’ ‘seats’ were occupied. Local authorities notified the spectators in advance where exactly the rally route will pass, and asked them to keep away from the competition vehicles. Three cars did not reach the third stage, but all the trucks lined up at the start. One after another, the Volkswagen team crews started: first to go was Carlos Sainz, and then Nasser Al Attiyah rushed after him. There was a difference of 1 minute 7 between them at the start of the stage. The KAMAZ-Master tandem of Eduard Nikolaev and Vladimir Chagin were first off in the trucks category and the intrigue evolved from the first seconds of the stage.


Ilya Kuznetsov from Russia keeps a steady pace and stays in top ten 101


Six helicopters were used for the rally needs

What Lithuanian doesn't like to drive fast! Unstoppable Benediktas Vanagas 102


The route passed through some very beautiful places, but as normal the participants did not have any time to enjoy the surroundings. The roads were so complicated that there was nowhere to drive at high speed. The main thing here was avoiding the trees. It was interesting to observe the race from the helicopter. The participants were easily spotted by the dust swirls rased by cars as they sped along… and trucks were moving with the same pace. Commentators called those broad lands as ‘territory of KAMAZ’. These huge machines do not care at all about the high grass and lack of roads. The only obstacle that could affect their speed was a narrow wooden track, but for cars the overgrown roads was a serious obstacle. Making the way through the wild jungle without any breakdowns was only down to luck. Besides, surface under the grass was like a roller coaster… with only one difference, the jumps and rises

were not visible at all. No wonder that there were a lot of accidents this day. At the 164th kilometer mark the Israeli crew of Nitzan Shekel and Dov Neuman in their Mitsubishi did not notice a hole, lost control over the vehicle and crashed into the tree. The medical helicopters arrived within a few minutes. Both the driver and co-driver were seriously injured so the crew was urgently evacuated to the bivouac, and then on the hospital in Lipetsk. Another Mitsubishi, driven by Alexey Berkut also rolled. Firdaus Kabirov was close and immediately rushed to help and turned the vehicle back on its wheels. This did not affect Kabirov’s result at all as he still managed to win the stage. His team mate Vladimir Chagin was not so lucky this time: 16 kilometres before the finish his truck ran over a big piece of iron in the bushwood and punctured the tyre loosing twelve precious minutes, coming home only third as a result.

For the first time in the race Czech Ales Loprais caught up with the KAMAZ trucks and even outpaced some of them and on this stage he was second, but he didn’t start resting on laurels as it is far too early for that. There are still five more huge stages to come. The lead of the car category also changed on this stage. Giniel De Villiers upset his team mates’ plans but taking car with the sections of complex navigation and then speeded up at the end… but maybe his win had something to do with Carlos Sainz loosing his way for a while in the tall grass. Local hero Boris Gadasin tried hard to keep pace with the first four crews and from the very beginning of the stage was breathing down Mark Miller’s neck and making the Volkswagen team nervous. One of the drivers said later that the route was so twisty that it was purely a navigator’s day! But everyone was warned before that those 218 kilometers would seem almost a thousand…

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Before the start 108


Franz Echter's crew

The driver of crew â„–126 Vladimir Frolov (right) has already got the racing performance

The start list is made according to the previous stage results 109


Yury Shashliuk (left) is always there, where it is difficult

Finish of the third special 110

G-Force crew is always fast and flying along the classical rally tracks


The third stage is going well for Ales Loprais, he finished right after the stage leader Firdaus Kabirov

It is still far to Sochi 111


Mobile hospital

And now it's time to get some rest 112

Russia 2 and Russia Today TV channels are in the thick of things


Francois Habib-Deloncle: the aircraft is first of all

Emotions after the finish

They've remembered about the spare wheel at the last moment 113


The first serious accident 114

The helicopter rushes for rescue


Crew â„–128, Nitzan Shekel and Dov Neumann had a bad luck 115


Composure and preciseness of the leader is transferred to his colleagues. Gouram Assathiany (left) – the general manager of Mutuaide, responsible for the medical support of the race

Can't do without breakages… 116

The next morning is far away – enough time to repair the vehicle


French company Mutuaide and Russian Federal Bio-Medical Agency provided the race with highly professional medical assistance

Doctors know their stuff 117


First sands are ahead. "King of the desert" Vladimir Chagin will give a taste of quality

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The driver of KAMAZ service vehicle Foat Bigashev has extensive experience in international rallies

The leaders are also not going smoothly


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Alexander Mironenko's crew polish their water-crossing skills 120


The promo-group has few spare minutes 121


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The work is humming at the press-center in the evening

Hard everyday work of the journalists 123


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lipetsk A long time ago there was a small town on the Lipovka river bank where he inhabitants suffered a  lot with the heavy yoke of Mongol-Tatar rule. It is mentioned in historical chronicles that the settlement was wiped out at the end of the thirteenth century, however not all researches agree with this version of Lipetsk’s origins. All do agree though that in the 17th century where modern Lipetsk now stands Small Studenky Lipsky arose. The founding of the city is considered to be 1703, when Peter the Great ordered the still and cast-iron mill to be built near the mines of ironstone on the shore of Lipovka, at the point where it flows into the Voronezh River. Canons, bombs, pistols, muskets and anchors were produced there under Peter the Great. In 1709 the village that flourished after the factories were established was renamed Lipskie Zavody. Only at the end of 18th century did Catherine II give the settlement the status of a district city of Tambov governorship when it was named Lipetsk. Two years later the city got its own emblem: a branchy linden tree symbolizing antiquity and prosperity. Shortly thereafter though, the Lipetsk factories were closed as it was not possible to compete with the modern iron-mills in the south of the country. Around the same time the city found fame thanks to its mineral water springs which were similar in chemical composition to the waters of the famous resorts in Germany, Libenstain and Termont. In the beginning of the 19th century the Lipetsk mineral springs resort was established. Iron production in Lipetsk was revived early in the last century, and today the city known as the largest manufacturer of steel and rolled iron both in Russia and abroad. Additional world fame was brought to Lipetsk by six small statues made of mammoth ivory, so called “Gagarino’s Venuses”. The statues received its name from the village of Gagarino, where they were found during archaeological excavations.

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SS-4 archeda

lipetsk – volgograd Before the Volgograd stages, getting some sleep for participants was not a bad idea. The longest 790km special stage with all its diversity was waiting for them. The organizers had prepared half of the route along roadless terrain and sands and added some forests trails and steppes near the end. No one doubted that this stage would be difficult. To get out of sands and beat the dunes the drivers and co-drivers would have to be quick in understanding each other. And it seemed a huge challenge for the race newcomers. By the fourth stage of the marathon five cars had retired, but the trucks continued the race with their full numbers. Despite the disappointing failures and delays the heavyweights were approaching their goal.

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And now the dune “fortresses” could enjoy the special challenges that the dunes provided. Their sands were caressing and flowing, but as people say “the bait hides the hook”. And it was only a rehearsal before the Astrakhan desert. …The morning dawned cold in Lipetsk, but finally the sky was clear. Everyone was pleased to know that the caravan was just a few steps from warmer territories where no one would be covered with heavy dew. The day started as usual: Boris Gadasin was nipping at heels of the three leaders from the Volkswagen team. He was driving so welly that there were no doubts he would break into the Volkswagen trin-


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ity and finish on the podium. But “man plans, God laughs”… All his victory plans ended at the 37th kilometer of the stage. At high speed the Russian’s G-Force Proto lost control and flipped over several times. The rear left wheel flew away to “catch up” the rivals. Fortunately Boris Gadasin and his co-driver Vladimir Demjanenko got off lightly, but their vehicle was far beyond repair. The Volkswagen team, keeping their cool, breathed freely and strengthened their top positions not only for this stage but also in the overall ranking. Giniel De Villiers won the stage, Carlos Sainz was a little bit behind, Nasser Al Attiyah and Mark Miller finished up after them. When they were overtaking each other, it looked like guys are just having fun. Knowing clearly that they left their competitors far behind, De Villiers and Sainz made a race between them fighting for every second. This exciting game was interrupted only for the time that was necessary for the crews to fix a few small problems. For example, Carlos Sainz stalled and the tough Spanish man had to spend two minutes getting it started again. Nasser had to stop twice, first to repair the cooling system hose, then to change the wheel. De Villiers didn’t have any problems and so won the stage from his team-mates. Adding another notch to his tally of victories the South African driver proved himself to be invincible, confident and a persistent driver. And what about the Russians? After

the retirement of Boris Gadasin the crew of Alexander Mironenko in their Nissan took over the mantle of top locals in 6th place. The truck class leaderboard stayed much the same. Three KAMAZ trucks held the lead, only the drivers’ names changed: Chagin, Kabirov, Nikolaev. This order is well known by the Dakar champions, but many were surprised by the speeds and skills of Eduard Nikolaev. In an interview he said modestly that the main goal for him is not to win the race but just to prepare for the upcoming Dakar. Firdaus Kabirov, the stage winner, said that everyone from KAMAZ-Master team wants to win, because if there was no competition, there would be no race... And although he believes that everyone has the right to make mistakes, he was trying to make as few of them as possible: “We won because we didn’t make any navigation errors and were driving at nearly 150kph, always keeping in mind that the trucks have 150kph speed limit. So, no wonder that we are right after Volkswagen team in overall ranking”. Ugo Duisters wasn’t so lucky though and was chased by problems. At the beginning of the race, he had trouble with the steering but this time he rolled his truck on to its side, right in the dunes. At this many people would have given up, but nothing of the kind for Ugo! Despite being in 14th position he remained in the ranks!

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Catching a car jump is a good luck for any photographer 134


Well-deserved reward after the third stage finish. Mark Miller, crew â„–104 135


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Laszlo Liszi from Hungary goes steadily to finish without the breakdowns

The pilot of crew â„–111 Benediktas Vanagas pursuits Alexander Mironenko (crew â„–109) 138


Bogdan Novitsky, the pilot of crew â„–110 is the first among Ukrainians 139


While his team mate Hugo Duisters gets out of sands, Pep Vila (on the photograph) gets fifth position in the ranking 140


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Wise in experience Alexander Mironenko is cautious

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Formerly Alexey Berkut's vehicle was one of Mitsubishi racing team


Frederic Chavigny from France and Franz Echter from Germany barely passed each other on a narrow sandy road 143


Giniel De Villiers enters his favourite role of invincible, confident in tactics and persistent race participant 144


No steps back – the navigator Jean Brucy helps his team-mate Frederic Chavigny to get out of the sand trap 145


Raz Heymann and Hillel Segal of Pointer team were surprised with the number of sandy areas near Volgograd

The experience helps to make it 146

The journalist of "Rossiyskaya Gazeta" Svetlana Brailovskaya is searching for a plot


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Ilgizar Mardeev is always serious

Each minute is precious for the mechanics

Vasily Kvachev – full of concerns

The bumpers had to be planished every day

Concilium 151


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KAMAZ team has a hunter's meal toninght – the mallard soup

The watermelon is a salvation in a hot day

Smelt is a superior delicacy!

Drop in! 153


Chagin's lessons: (from left to right) Ayrat Mardeev, Ildar Shaysultanov, Eduard Nikolaev, Vladimir Chagin 154


A short break

Evening in the bivouac 155


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The participants were welcomed with open arms everywhere

Daily maintenance

ENG crew of Channel One Russia

Bivouac in the steppe


Dessoude camp

Getting additional information for the RAID category. Category director – Yury Ivlev 157


Sergey Ushakov, RAF sports commissioner 158


volgograd

All over the world this city is known as Stalingrad. One of the major battles of World War II took place here from July 17, 1942 to February 2, 1943. It became a turning point of the war. During the Battle of Stalingrad, the Nazi block lost a quarter of all its forces operating on the Soviet-German front, which was about half a million soldiers and officers. The city was awarded the title of Hero City for the heroism of the defenders of Stalingrad. Everything reminds us of a war here. First of all, Mamayev Kurgan, which is also called “the main height of Russia”. During the Battle of Stalingrad the most furious fighting was here. A few years after the war a large team of sculptors, architects and builders started to construct the enormous memorial complex “Heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad”, which is crowned by a huge allegorical statue of the Motherland. This monument is called “The Motherland Calls!” and is included in the list of the Seven Wonders of Russia. In memory of those days a few buildings that survived the bombing were retained, although they were badly “wounded” – the “Soldier’s House of Fame”, better known as “Pavlov’s House”, and the destroyed mill. The city rebuilt from ruins was renamed in 1961 as Volgograd. And four centuries ago it was called Tsaritsyn. Since ancient times, people have been defending here at the junction of the Volga and Don rivers against the steppe nomads and gangs of robbers wandering across the Volga River. Modern Volgograd is one of the most beautiful cities in Russia. Under the general layout of 1945, it  retained the traditional linear system of the layout, and the foreshore part was exempted from industrial constructions and the warehouses that were cutting off the residential districts from the river. The city is wrapped by the Volga Hydroelectric Station in  the north-east and the Volga–Don Shipping Canal in south-west. The Canal allowed Volgograd to become the port of five seas.

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SS-5 desert of the caspian

volgograd – astrakhan It is the long-awaited half way. Those who made it through the previous stages felt like they’ve got over the mountains. But they hadn’t reached the mountains yet… According to the organizers, this stage promised to become the most difficult of the event, not only because of its 446-kilometers length, but also of the route peculiarities. Before the beginning of the stage the participants were informed that there will be directions instead of the roads. The first “dish” of the menu consisted of steppe roads with variable visibility. The danger in the tricky steppe environment is the grass. It can easily clog the radiator, so a special wire mesh should be mounted before the start to protect it. Most of the route was in the sands, including the strays,

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and ‘ergs’, which means ‘the sea of dunes’ in Arabic. In addition there was a strong wind, sand storms here and there and not a soul on the horizon. Only saiga antelopes and rodents would probably cross the road frightened. It could be that this stage would become a critical one. From the very beginning of the stage the Volkswagen team mates were fighting each other. The sportscasters who monitored the race in the helicopters, named it as an “outstanding battle of the legendary team”. The chase made by Giniel De Villiers, Carlos Sainz, Mark Miller and Nasser Al Attiyah exceeded all expectations. The only thing missing was the crowd to support these


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Satellite communications is not a luxury but a necessity

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Virginie Soulaire – the Sports Coordinator of the race


hot-blooded guys. But chasing each other, taking risks, the drivers made some mistakes…. but none more than De Villiers. Near the end of the stage his Race Touareg plunged into a pit and rolled several times, coming to rest on the roof. All three of the other Volkswagen crews that were right behind stopped immediately to find out how the driver and the Co-driver were. And they did not leave until they were sure that every one was perfectly OK. (By the way, the time spend assisting is given back later according to the commissioners’ decision.) When the medical team arrived, De Villiers complained of a severe pain in his neck. His Codriver was lucky and didn’t need the medical help. Unfortunately their Touareg was beyond repair and therefore the crew automatically moved to the spectators’ category. This accident led Sainz inheriting the overall lead, however he also admitted that this special stage was one of the most difficult stages in his entire career. When De Villiers arrived in the bivouac in Astrakhan, he could not explain how it happened, ‘the accident

happened right after the dunes, I even didn’t know if we were on the right track or not. It is very sad, especially considering that usually we pass the similar routes without any special efforts”. A serious dispute inflamed among another «blue armada». Firdaus Kabirov and Vladimir Chagin were discovering who is the fastest. Before the stage there were 12 minutes and 45 seconds between the two famous drivers, and Chagin aimed to reduce the gap and take the lead... and this is exactly what he did. Chagin finished the fifth stage with an overall lead of 4 minutes and 22 seconds over Kabirov. Despite rushing at full speed to victory, Vladimir kept in mind that he needed to keep his new truck in good condition until the finish as he was going to conquer the Dakar in the same vehicle. Eduard Nikolaev was also driving his truck carefully. He mentioned several times that it is important to reach the finish with fully functioning vehicle, the victory not so is important. Thus the young driver from KAMAZ-master team was going at full speed to try and keep up with his eminent team mates.

Despite the race not going to Ales Loprais’ plan he still wasn’t veiling his aspirations to take the third place and kept pushing for every second… even though he lost about twenty minutes near the start after a navigation mistake. But the stage was so long and hard he still managed to move up to 5th overall. Not all the participants managed to overcome the dune “mountains”. A shovel is man’s best friend in this situation and after surviving through so many kilometres already no one wanted to loose by just being stuck in the sand... but that’s exactly what happened to the two Russian teams, Alexander Mironenko and his main opponent Ilya Kuznetsov, both lost time. Digging the vehicles out as fast as they could both struggled hard for the honour of being the best Russian driver. In the end it was Alexander Mironenko who got out of the dunes the quickest and got to Astrakhan with the fourth fastest time, right behind the three remaining Volkswagens. Everyone who got to Astrakhan now believed the organisers who’d told them it was going to be the hardest stage. And to find a route through the dunes, the reccy crew had to first use a helicopter!

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The leading driver Giniel De Villiers retires the race 166


The rolled over vehicle is far beyond any repayment 167


Nothing else remains for Giniel De Villiers but signing the autographs 168

VW team mechanics are working with the German precision


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Sometimes a human power should be added to the hundreds of horsepowers of the engine 170


Konstantin Mescheryakov, the experienced navigator of crew â„–108 knows that they shouldn't bustle in the desert 171


The pilot of crew № 102 Nasser Al Attiyah ready to fly from happiness – he is approaching the top of the pedestal 172


Sands – the habitat for buggy 173


Vladimir Rogozhin, the co-driver of crew 135 is responsible not only for the navigation 174


The spectators were helping to the only female crew all together 175


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The pilot of crew â„–209 driving MAN truck is in focus of the camera man 180


The pilot of the TV helicopter Franc Arrestier performs a stunt-flying 181


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Summary of the day with the Media Director of the race Erik Khairullin

Maria Shakhnova and Louis Doucet: Russian-French editorial board of the Press Service 183


Astrakhan welcomes the rally 184


Azat Abusev (left) provided a full range of tourist services on the route

Competitor’s Service: Benoit Lavigne

Segway – an essential transport for the creative director. Bulat and Natalia Yanborisov 185


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astrakhan The magnificent city of Astrakhan is situated on eleven islands of Near-Caspian lowland. Long time before the city foundation the small settled towns were located here at the crossroads of Persian and Arab trade routes. At various times the city was called Astarhan, Ashtarhan, and even HadzhiTarhan. Hadzhi-Tarhan played an important role in trading with Europe. The trading caravans brought silk, spices and other goods from the East. For nearly three centuries, Astrakhan was the main administrative center. Trade and politics formed between Russia and countries of the East, South and North Caucasus. It is the city of “watermelons, fish and caviar”, and the brand of Astrakhan is known far beyond the Russian borders. The fish trading areas were named “Isad” almost two centuries ago. The fish bazaar in Astrakhan is still called the same name today. This word was born from the fisherman’s word that literally means “plank down”. People say that “it’s much easier to specify the missing goods, than list the ones that are offered to the customers”. The fish in Astrakhan was called “living silver”. Early last century the richest fish wharf was located in the spit of Kutum River. Here you could buy fresh, frozen, dried or salted fish, as well as try to get the best sturgeon roe. Nowadays the fishing industry of Astrakhan remains serious competition not only within Russia but also abroad. Inhabitants of Astrakhan commemorate Peter the Great and three years ago they raised a monument of royal dimensions in his honor. Under Peter I Astrakhan acquired the status of provincial capital, as it had previously been only a fortress. For a relatively short period the strong navy admiralty, wharfs and the port have emerged. The Astrakhan province was so extensive that today it can be compared with the Volga Federal District.

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ss-6 pink lake silk way

astrakhan – elista Steppes and lunar landscapes on the shores of dried up salty lakes… this was the picture of a new day. It seemed that there could be no more serious challenge than the Astrakhan desert, but the organizers had prepared many surprises for today, promising sand covered with small bushes, dunes, steppes, roads with traps and a lot of navigation across deserted landscape where nevertheless sometimes one can see horses, the big birds of prey and steppe wolves. While the remaining participants were gaining speed on the way to Elista, the chess capital of Russia, the ex-leader of the race Giniel De Villiers flew over this part of the route by plane. Understandably he wasn’t in a very good mood, so to cheer him up the local Kalmykian hosts, in a tradi-

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Evgenia Bykova, the Coordinator of work with the mass-media will always find a good topic for publication

tional manner, gave him a khata, a white scarf that symbolises a happy road and good luck for all undertakings, as well as some sweets. If only he could see what beauty awaits those who drive the 500 kilometer stage. The organizers designed a route that was a kind of continuation of the Capsian sea waves which were what the abandoned road looked like as it wound through valleys and between hills. Once life here prospered as this was the route of the original and ancient Silk Way caravans. Now memories of those times are only in the shades and stones … The first section of the special stage disposed catching up the time that was lost earlier, and one could loose all


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Salines near the Pink lake

Steppe roads dispose to fast driving 190


the precious minutes during the second section. As well as at the previous stage, the roads imperceptibly turned to the directions and the task became more complicated due to the dust storm that appeared from nowhere. Also man-made creations added some more obstacles to the route: the cars easily flew over the narrow piers spanning irrigation canals, but it was difficult for the trucks as they could hardly fit over the tight crossings. Besides the tough route many participants also got lost. The way was perfectly visible from up in the helicopter, but down below the trucks were tearing around and searching for the checkpoints... and missing one at this late stage would surely mean defeat. To test the navigation skills of the crews to the limit each checkpoint was located a little off the route so that the roadbook legend was useless and crews had to rely on GPS instead. Many truck drivers struggled with this and lost time, apart from the crew of Eduard Nikolaev who quickly worked out where it was, thanks to his co-driver Viatcheslav Mizyukaev, whose birthday it was. Franz Echter has also found the point quickly and finished a close second to Nikolaev.

Today, at last, good luck also smiled on Ales Loprais and he came in 3rd, albeit some 35 minutes behind the leader, but he had already given up on getting to the podium. The first three places still belonged to the KAMAZ-Master team, but the team as a whole had a hard stage. Vladimir Chagin and Firdaus Kabirov strayed looking for the checkpoint for a long time, and Kabirov was also delayed with a breakdown. So, firmly anchored 33 minutes and 3 seconds ahead of his trainer Vladimir Chagin was happy-golucky Eduard Nikolaev, who actually couldn’t understand how he had finished so far ahead of his team mates. Unfortunately the race was over for another KAMAZ-Mazter Team crew. Yesterday, after a very heavy landing from one of the numerous jumps, Ilgizar Mardeev’s co-driver Stanislav hurt his back so much that they had to pull out. Some participants admitted later that, wandering in steppe, they were searching not so much for the checkpoint, but for the stage leaders so that they could follow their tracks. If only they knew that even the highly skilled crews were lost as well…

In the meantime the Volkswagen team was playing their favourite game; “catch-up”. The new overall leader Carlos Sainz made a few small mistakes which allowed his team mates Nasser Al Attiyah and Mark Miller to take advantage and demote him to 3rd on the stage. At the end a pleasant surprise was waiting for the Volkswagen trio at the entrance to the bivouac in Elista. The local residents, dressed in their national costumes, came out to meet the leaders and like De Villiers before they were presented with khatas and treated with ‘djomba’ a traditional green tea cooked in milk and ‘bortsogs’ the national pastry similar to doughnuts. And when a horse was brought to Nasser Al Attiyah, he didn’t miss the chance to take a small detour on the steppe – the spectators and his team mates were pleased with this show. When Eduard Nikolaev finished the stage after the VWs, he didn’t get any bortsogs. All of them had been eaten by the hungry Volkswagen team...

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Crew №201: mechanic Andrey Mokeev, navigator Aydar Belyaev and driver Firdaus Kabirov

Seven-time champion of the Dakar, navigator Sergei Savostin 192

Ildar Shaysultanov – the mechanic of Vladimir Chagin's crew

The experienced KAMAZ-Master team member Sergey Reshetnikov became a mentor for the rally newcomers Andrey Leontyev and Alexey Mochalov


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To Elista!

Driver Pavel Loginov, crew â„–113. Respiting after the finish

Finish! 195


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Kalmykia: strong wind and dust – not the best conditions for shooting

The prince on a horse. Nasser Al Attiyah, pilot of crew №102 197


Welcome to Kalmykia! 198

The stage is done. Ralph Pitchford, navigator, crew â„–104


Silk Way Rally 2010 en