The fourth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – Qatar Cross Country Rally – continues in the Middle East. The Russians are still in the field, and on Friday the participants had to pass 350.54 kilometers long special stage.
This special stage was fast, but there were a lot of stones on the road, there were navigational difficulties – lots of junctions and adjoining roads. The G-Energy Team crew went with a good pace, but at the 300th kilometer of the special stage distance one tyre became flat and then after five kilometers another one did the same. They had to stop twice to replace the tyres and spend time warming up the spares to drive at a comfortable speed.
The crew of Yasir Saiedan was another reason to slow down for Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov. Saiedan caught and overtook the Russians, then he lost the pace, searching for the right direction. It was unsafe to ride in a dusty plum at a high pace behind him and G-Energy Team crew had to let Saudi go, waiting for the opportunity to overtake him, while he was losing speed and seeking the right course. But when the special stage came out on the coast, Vasilyev and Zhiltsov began to catch up with the Polish driver Jakub Przygonski and the local favorite Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah. In the long turns it was easy to see a dusty plum of two crews traveling ahead. But a few kilometers along the dunes the struggle began, Zhiltsov signaled with the “Sentinel” so that the contestants allowed to overtake them on the track, and those in turn tried to push and leave. As a result of this positional fight and with the help of complex navigation, the Russians managed to outrun the Pole and the Qatari at the special stage, but then they were again caught up by the Saudi Yasir Saiedan.
And while the Russians dropped their pace to let him go, Jakub Przygonski managed to rush by their Mini all4Racing. So the finishing 100 kilometers of the third day passed in this leapfrog. Van Loon was unlucky again meeting the ravines: according to the road book notes, in one place the racing track was traveling around the road works, and a little further from them there was the ill-fated ravine into which the Dutch’s car rolled over. Aron Domzala was wasting his time searching for the track and once Russians met him in the wrong direction.
Vladimir Vasilyev, driver, “Today was also a hard day with quite complex navigation. On these stone roads the rear wheels were worn out totally. After twenty kilometers of sand we punctured two tyres. It takes about two and a half minutes to replace the tyre, but we also need time to buckle up, get off and drive, I think, it took four or five minutes. We didn’t change both tyres at once; we started with the first, then a few kilometers later – the second one. For tomorrow we will have the same tactics, try to go quickly and accurately. The most important thing here is to find the necessary road, because if you drive by the wrong road, you lose more time. There are many turns and junctions; you need to look carefully where you’re going”.
Konstantin Zhiltsov, co-driver, “We were given an additional hour to work with navigational books – it’s good. Yesterday we had a large interval when it was possible to work with documents – from 15:00 to 21:00, and we could rest a little. Of course, today we are more tired – two full days are behind. So it will be a little harder to work with a road book, to concentrate right after the finish of the special stage, because you’ve been driving all day and now you want to rest. Today there was a foolish situation with Saiedan; he overtook us several times, then he got lost, lagged behind and overtook again. He is not very experienced in T1; when you go second, it seems you can drive much faster. But as soon as you step forward, your speed immediately drops down. Until a person comes to this understanding, probably, he will continue driving the same way. And in Qatar the
specificity is when you go first and don’t see where to turn, you have to slow down and look for the right path, check the course and so on. That is, in any case, it turns out slower. Perhaps, for today he already realized that it is not easy to go ahead. Tomorrow we’ll see how it goes”. Despite all the adventures, the G-Energy Team crew stepped up to the third position in the overall standings and finished the day third. Tomorrow the participants will tackle 320.98 km of high-speed roads in the same area