Offroad speeds continue to increase at the 2019 Silk Way Rally

Courtesy of Red Bull Desert Wings

Luciano Benavides pulls a wheelie on stage five of the 2019 Silk Way Rally © Marcin Kin/Red Bull Content Pool

Thursday, July 11
Mandalgovi, Mongolia

The fifth stage of the 2019 Silk Way Rally plunged the convoy deep into the Mongolian wilderness. There was an exhibition of high-speed offroad racing across all categories as leading competitors put on a show for local fans.

Picking up a fifth consecutive car class stage win on the route between Ulaanbaatar and Mandalgovi were Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA). The unstoppable duo put on another amazing display which saw them open the route and win the stage. No wonder they arrived at the Mandalgovi bivouac with huge smiles on their faces.

“The car is going great, I’m enjoying driving here and Mathieu (Baumel) is doing a great job with the navigation. The landscape is really incredible, so nice. We’re seeing a lot of different animals and it’s a pleasure to be racing here in Mongolia.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah

Al-Attiyah and Baumel’s Toyota Hilux is now nearly 40 minutes clear of their closest rivals in the car category.

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There was also a dominant display of leading from the front in the bike race as Sam Sunderland (GBR) took the second part of the marathon stage in his stride. The Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider and his bike were kept away from the service crew last night due to marathon stage rules.

The marathon stage meant that Sunderland had just the one set of tyres for yesterday’s 470km of racing and today’s 337km. The 2017 Dakar bike race winner did a great job looking after his bike and tyres to further extend his overall lead.

“It was the second day of the marathon so normally the tyres are a bit shot, but the bike has been great. I’m feeling good and I’ll just try and keep pushing until the end.” – Sam Sunderland

Sunderland is being backed up by his fellow Red Bull KTM Factory Team riders Luciano Benavides (ARG) and Laia Sanz (ESP). Benavides is currently second in the overall classification and Sanz has moved into the Top 10 after some consistent riding.

“Yesterday and today I felt really good. The rhythm on both days has been good and the speed has been improving.” – Laia Sanz

The high-speed nature of the stages in Mongolia mean that the bikers especially have to maintain 100 percent concentration while racing. On stage five Joan Barreda (ESP) crashed out while third overall in the general classification.

On the previous day it was Anastasiya Nifontova (RUS) who saw her race end prematurely. Nifontova was thrown from her bike when it hit a hole on stage four. The Russian rider was taken to hospital with a suspected fractured collarbone.

“This is the first big competition that I will not finish. I made it this far, but now it’s over for me. I will be back next year to try again for sure.” – Anastasiya Nifontova

Team Kamaz Master were able to turn the tables slightly on truck race leader Siarhay Viazovich (BLR) during stage five. Andrey Karginov (RUS) won the stage to cut seven minutes out of Viazovich’s overall lead. Karginov’s Kamaz team-mate Anton Shibalov (RUS) set the second fastest time of the day in the truck race, while Viazovich was third on the stage.

“We’re fighting to win back time. We have enough experience in this sport to know that you must keep fighting until the last metre of the last stage.” – Andrey Karginov

There’s another monster distance to cover for stage six tomorrow as the convoy departs for Dalanzadgad. The timed special stage measures a total of 408 kilometres. The terrain will mostly be the fast tracks that have come to characterise the Mongolian section of the Silk Way Rally.

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2019 Silk Way Rally: Stage 5 Results
Car: Top 3
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA)   Toyota Hilux   02:43:14

2. Mathieu Serradori (FRA)/Fabian Lurquin (BEL)   Buggy   +00:03:07
3. Eric Van Loon (NLD)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA)   Toyota Hilux   +00:07:39
Bike: Top 3
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR)   KTM   03:05:31
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG)   Honda   +00:01:33
3. Paulo Goncalves (PRT)   Hero   +00:02:47
Truck: Top 3
1. Andrey Karginov (RUS)   Kamaz   02:45:28
2. Anton Shibalov (RUS)   Kamaz   +00:04:18

3. Siarhay Viazovich (BLR)   MAZ   +00:06:52

2019 Silk Way Rally: Overall Rankings after Stage 5 Car: Top 3
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA)   Toyota Hilux   11:46:41

2. Kun Liu (CHN)/Hongyu Pan (CHN)   SMG Buggy   +00:37:25
3. Jérome Pelichet (FRA)/Pascal Larroque (FRA)   Optimus   +00:43:14 Bike: Top 3
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR)   KTM   12:44:26
2. Luciano Benavides (ARG)   KTM   +00:13:44

3. Kevin Benavides (ARG)   Honda   +00:17:18
Truck: Top 3
1. Siarhay Viazovich (BLR)   MAZ   12:33:05
2. Anton Shibalov (RUS)   Kamaz   +00:16:04
3. Andrey Karginov (RUS)   Kamaz   +00:19:35
Quotes
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “Today was a very nice stage for us. We opened the road again and we didn’t have any problem at all. The car is going great, I’m enjoying driving here and Mathieu (Baumel) is doing a great job with the navigation. The landscape is really incredible, so nice. We’re seeing a lot of different animals and it’s a pleasure to be racing here in Mongolia.” Sam Sunderland: “When you’re opening the route it’s never going to be an easy day. The guys behind can use your line as a reference and catch up. I tried to keep my rhythm high the whole day, but on these long stages you start to fatigue. You have to be so focused to avoid all the rocks and camel grass. You have to be really alert the whole time because of the speed. It was the second day of the marathon so normally the tyres are a bit shot, but the bike has been great. I’m feeling good and I’ll just try and keep pushing until the end.”
Luciano Benavides: “Today was a tough day for me. Another really fast stage. (Joan) Barreda started behind me and then came passed. When he had his crash I stopped to see if he was OK. After that, I lost my concentration a little bit and got lost, that cost me a few minutes. Overall, it’s good to get the marathon stage finished. The bike is OK and I didn’t crash on a dangerous stage. It was another good day for us.”
Laia Sanz: “Yesterday and today I felt really good. The rhythm on both days has been good and the speed has been improving. It feels a bit like training, but I also want to get the best result I possibly can at this rally. It’s a good feeling to be improving each day.”
Anastasiya Nifontova: “I came off about 10 kilometres after the refuelling zone. I was so wrapped up in following the right track that I missed the hazard. I was ejected from the bike and thrown into the air. This is the first big competition that I will not finish. I made it this far, but now it’s over for me. I will be back next year to try again for sure.”
Andrey Karginov: “Today we were trying to move faster to win back some time. There was a lot of dust and also some very fast stretches of road. In total I think we managed to win back about seven minutes today. We’re fighting to win back time. We have enough experience in this sport to know that you must keep fighting until the last metre of the last stage.”

Remaining stages
July 12 – Stage 6 – MANDALGOVI to DALANZADGAD
July 13 – Stage 7 – DALANZADGAD to BAYINBAOLIGE
July 14 – Stage 8 – BAYINBAOLIGE to ALASHAN
July 15 – Stage 9 – ALASHAN to JIAYUGUAN
July 16 – Stage 10 – JIAYUGUAN to DUNHUANG

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