Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge rally raid continues in the United Arab Emirates, and the tricky sands change the results again.
Luc Alphand, yesterday’s leader of the special stage, gave up ground to the Czech driver Martin Prokop, who turned out to be the fastest on Wednesday. Thus, Prokop added to his strength in the final classification, increasing the gap from the second place and Jakub Przygonski for another eight minutes, and Vladimir Vasilyev, finishing the day in the third position, also became third in the overall standings.
Jakub Pszygonski became a hostage to the sands and he had to spend several “fascinating” minutes digging. Martin Prokop, as other drivers who arrived at the finish, complained of high dunes, whose steep slope and loose sand did not allow to come to the top from the first time.
G-Energy team crew finished the day third, reaching the finish line and a saving oasis without serious “adventures”.
Vladimir Vasilyev, the driver, “We’ve started fourth today, and have seen only Luc Alphand. He got stuck in the dunes, had to dig out; and we, crossing the sandy crest, we close to land to the Frenchman’s car roof, because he didn’t turn on the “Sentinel” or anything, didn’t display the warning sign. Well, we took a little to the right and so, by chance, drove him around. I only glimpsed that we’ve passed him. And then we were only driving, seeing nobody and nothing. It’s hot. Przygonski has started today, but we’ve seen him nowhere and haven’t passed on the track. It seems, he got stuck somewhere in the dunes. Today we’ve also climbed two dunes with some troubles, because where Prokop climbs easily in buggy, we cannot mount. We drove around the edge, tried to climb, drove again a couple of times.
The car is slightly damaged, but in the dunes this is normal. Sometimes there are jumps, where you hit the forecarriage, ditches are found – it’s normal here. About 70 kilometers to finish we saw that we had a slow puncture – the tyre started to flatten, so we dropped down the speed a little bit so as not to stop at all. Otherwise, two more minutes would be lost for a replacement”.
Two minutes spent on replacing the tyre, could play into the hands of competitors, given that the top five finished with minute intervals.
Konstantin Zhiltsov, co-driver, “An interesting day, a special stage is familiar from the past years, except that this year the dunes are more difficult and the sand is loose. There were places where we couldn’t climb from the first time. We had to leave, turn around, and mount again. We saw Martin Prokop at the very beginning and then he left us. After the time control point we glimpsed the hood of Luc Alphand’s car – they dug out after the dune and apparently forgot how to turn on the “Sentinel” to warn others about the danger. Than we had a slow puncture and we dropped the pace, so as not to stop for a replacement. It’s very hot”.
The rally raid continues in a picturesque and sunny terrain, every day the crews leave for the start from the Liwa Oasis, where the rally bivouac is located. The sandy dunes that rise a few dozen meters up, seem endless and are suddenly replaced by oases that really create a sense of a mirage – the landscapes are so contrasting. Desert itself, depending on the time of day, changes its color and provides an opportunity to admire such a picturesque rave of nature colors.
The Liwa Oasis is a site of 50, smaller in size, oases. Its length is about 100 km and this oasis is located from east to west. The oasis itself resembles a series of green stripes with sandy dunes stretching between them, the height of which occasionally hits a hundred meters, and the steepness of the dunes does not allow an ordinary traveler in a safari jeep to climb the top of them. Once a great Bedouin tribe of Bani Yas lived on the oasis territory, whose descendants are the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
On Thursday there are the final 218 kilometers of the multi-day hot race and the long-awaited finish in Abu Dhabi, where we will see the winners of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2018 rally raid.