The first of five competitive days of the rally raid in Abu Dhabi has ended today with the victory of the French-Spanish crew of Cyril Despres and Daniel Oliveras in the Mini John Cooper Works buggy from the X-Raid team.
Despres is nearly six minutes ahead of his closest pursuer Bernhard ten Brinke. The crew of Stephane and Andrea Peterhansel also in the MINI John Cooper Works Rally buggy rounded out the top three. No one could have imagined how the crews of Despres and Peterhansel would perform before the multi-day rally raid start – these crews have the new co-drivers.
Today the Russians Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov have failed to set the pace of the ride they are capable of – under the Abu Dhabi scorching sun with the air temperature +39°C in the shade the BMW X3 CC engine started to overheat that naturally affected the power and the speed.
Vladimir Vasilyev, driver, “Today’s special stage was full of various navigation traps, but this was not the main problem. The main problem was that our engine overheated and, driving to the next high dune, the emergency mode was activated. In Russia it’s impossible to load the engine the same way as here, taking into account the ambient temperature and the loads experienced by the vehicle when overcoming the same sands. In fact, we have spent this day searching for the necessary settings”.
The FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies current holder Pole Jakub Przygonski finished the day in the fifth position, however, he complained about problems with the drive that he managed to resolve thanks to his teammate Martin Prokop. He helped the Polish crew and towed them to the finish line at the final five kilometers of the special stage. Prokop, in turn, complained about his health, experiencing problems with acclimatization.
On Monday the drivers will have to overcome a distance of a similar complexity: the length of the leg is 371 kilometers, 222 of them will fall on the special stage distance. The unpredictable nature of the sand track in Abu Dhabi has never allowed viewers to choose their favorite or decide in advance who would be able to reach the finish line first.