The FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies calendar has only four stages after the race in Turkmenistan that was to become the third round of the series “withdrew”. In fact the Rally Kazakhstan 2019 that has started today will be the third event. Taking into consideration that there are only four attempts, all races of the “big” rally raid series worth their weight in gold – there will be nothing to compensate for the missed opportunities.
The entry list includes 28 crews in petrol and diesel vehicles of T1.1 and T1.2 categories, production off-road cars (T2) and all-terrain vehicles (T3.1). And four of the overall standings participants – Nasser Al-Attiyah, Stefan Peterhansel, Vladimir Vasilyev and Yazeed Al-Rajhi are the contenders for the top title of the series. Bernhard ten Brinke and Jakub Przygonski are close on the heels of these four favorites; are really capable of competing for places on the podium of the rally raid overall standings.
The G-Energy Team crew has a starting number 203 at this race, according to the intermediate classification after all the rounds. Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov in the BMW Mini All 4 Racing (T1.2) drove through the podium on the Aktau embankment.
Vladimir Vasilyev, driver, “We don’t prepare specifically for each race, it’s still not a classical rally and you can’t make notes beforehand here. Rally Kazakhstan is a full-scale rally raid in a few days. It will be a good preparation for the upcoming Silk Way race that will be held in July. Kazakhstan has very interesting roads and varied surface. In addition we have a good list of participants here, Nasser Al-Attiyah added his application to it. Let’s see, the race will start tomorrow”.
Rally Kazakhstan is the only rally raid in the world with full-scale racing stages, and its route does not include a Prologue, when riders usually choose their starting positions. The six-day rally raid, scheduled to take place from 27 May to 1 June, includes 1,872.46 km of special stages from 2,536.85 km of total distance, although the organizers tried to reduce the length of each racing day, especially the liaisons. The sequence of overcoming the racing legs will hardly differ from the route of last year. Tracks of special stages are laid in the Mangistau region that stretches along the Caspian Sea shores. Most of the territory is occupied by a vast saline desert; and the climate, despite the proximity of the sea, is extremely arid.
The organizers rethought some special stages, moving the start areas, to add more sectors of the insidious sands to the race. It should be noted that the sands in this region are covered with vegetation that makes driving them challenging and increases the difficulty of passing the distance; it also forces the crews to pay increased attention to the tyre pressure of their vehicles during the stages.
After the day of pre-start formalities and the opening ceremony of the rally raid, the crews will immediately plunge into the working atmosphere. On Monday, 27 May, they will have a 280-kilometer leg from Aktau to Kenderli. The start of the first day is scheduled for 8:00 am; and the itinerary is designed so as to have time to overcome the route to the peak of exhausting heat.