The Arab round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies is continuing in Abu Dhabi, and the Russian racers managed to show their speed capabilities today. Today Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov have set the best time in the car category among Russians participating in the race – their BMW X3 SS (T1.2) crossed the special stage finish line the second. The best time of the day was set by Yazeed Al-Rajhi in the Toyota Hilux Overdrive (T1.1 category). Saudit, who won the Silk Way rally last year, have a goal to win the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies this year. However, not everything is as it was intended, because yesterday the driver received a serious fine of 100 hours for not being able to overcome the past day entire distance. The chances to win this competition are slim to none, but Al-Rajhi does not give up.
Yesterday Vladimir Vasilyev was not so lucky – the time loss was explained by the engine malfunction that overheated and switched to emergency “energy saving” mode, not allowing the car to accelerate fully in difficult weather conditions, created by a sandstorm. Overcoming the dunes was so problematic that the car stopped several times, stuck in heavy sand. During the service time mechanics coped with the task and eliminated the fault.
Vladimir Vasilyev, driver, “The car was repaired, but we didn’t manage to drive the whole distance normally – nothing overheated only during the half of it. But then, it seems, something got into the fan, additionally installed for better cooling at the oil radiator, and it broke down. Therefore the second halfway the car was warming up again – we were driving carefully so as not to overheat it, because the oil temperature rose to 125⁰C. In terms of navigation, it was not easy: in one place we slightly went the wrong way, but quickly understood it and returned to the track”. The second special stage had a mixed character: in its first half there were excellent tracks, but then the high dunes began, and navigation was no longer easy. In addition, strong wind interfered with following the tracks of the passed crews to avoid sand traps. Also the co-drivers note that almost all the control points of the distance were open before – it means that the orientation was more by the navigational devices than by the exact instructions of the road books. Devices fix the course in time that begins to be displayed after “taking” the next route point. On Monday there were no such easy tasks, the co-drivers had more work – the bright sun of the desert and the strongest wind swept heaps of sand, so it was necessary to follow the road book instructions and navigational devices indication carefully so as not to get lost. Having started the route of the second leg from the 12th position, Vasilyev was able to pass Yasir Seaidan, Miroslav Zapletal and Aron Domzala. Yesterday’s favorite Cyril Despres has rolled back to the 18th place today, struggling with the technical problems of his car.
Vladimir Vasilyev, driver, “We were catching up with Martin Prokop, but the engine began to warm up critically, so we couldn’t overtake the Czech – in such situations you need to go to full throttle. So we drove carefully so as not to overheat the engine, because 120°C is still a critical temperature”. The race is stepping up and tomorrow 434 kilometers will toss the “desert challenge” to
participants, 298 of them will fall on the special stage. In addition to sporting luck the racers will have to stock up on energy to overcome the tropical desert tracks in one of the hottest points of the world.