By clinching his third stage victory at the Silk Way Rally through Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan Volkswagen factory driver Carlos Sainz together with his co-driver Lucas Cruz (E/E) took the overall lead, thus heading for his fourth rally victory in the Race Touareg.
Volkswagen pairing Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D), who had been leading up to now, suffered a setback: On the leg from Balkanabad to Turkmenbashi they drove into a dip at high speed and rolled over several times. Neither of them suffered any injuries but their Race Touareg was damaged. Al-Attiyah and Gottschalk repaired their 300-hp rally prototype and continued driving towards the finish at low speed.
The "Dakar winners Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) clinched second place on the leg covering a total of 417 kilometres (345 kilometres of special stage) in front of Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) and moved up to second and third place, respectively. As the final leg on Sunday after a get-together of the participants with the minister presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijjan will only cover 24 kilometres of special stage, Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz practically have victory in their pocket. Their advantage over their team-mates amounts to more than 20 minutes.
Kris Nissen : (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"We've put the largest part of the Silk Way Rally, which we can regard as a clear success, behind us. The decision to use this new event to prepare for the Dakar Rally was right. The competitive stress for the drivers, co-drivers and the squad cannot be realistically simulated during tests. However, the most important news of the day is that Nasser Al-Attiyah and Timo Gottschalk survived the roll-over unharmed. They're now trying to reach the finish on their own power.
#100 Giniel de Villiers : 3rd place overall
"It was a good leg which closely resembled the Dakar Rally. It wasn't just fast but also featured many tricky sections such as bumpy stretches. I enjoyed that. In the beginning we had a problem with inflation pressure on one of our tyres, so we stopped and added more air. Later, we caught up with Mark and Ralph and followed them and took the same detour they did.
#101 Carlos Sainz : 1st place overall
"At the beginning of the stage we took a detour which cost us about a minute. I then drove flat out to catch up with Nasser. At some point we caught up with him when he rolled over several times about one hundred metres in front of us. We stopped and saw that Nasser and Timo were okay. I feel sorry for them. However, the most important finding is still the fact that our cars functioned reliably and that our preparation for the Dakar' was successful.
#103 Mark Miller : 2nd place leg
"For me, this has so far been the nicest leg of the rally; it offered a good mix of various types of terrain. Up to the first check point we were running well but then we missed a way point with Giniel and Dirk following us. When we saw Nasser and Timo after their accident we ran out of steam as well. It's bitter to see team-mates retire so shortly before the finish - it's a pity for them and their crew.
#104 Nasser Al-Attiyah : had not reached the finish at the time of this release.
Silk Way Rally Final Standing
1 Sainz-Cruz VW Race Touareg 2 3h24'05"
2 Miller-Pitchford VW Race Touareg 2 + 21'52"
3 De Villiers-Von Zitzewitz VW Race Touareg 2 + 28'09"
4 Misikov-Zhiltsov Nissan + 4h44'04"
5 Kuznetsov-Neshin Mitsubishi + 5h23'30"
6 Saukans-Zarnis OSC + 6h06'56"
7 Berkut-Meshcheryakov Mitsubishi + 6h12'25"
8 Vanagas-Jurgelenas OSC + 6h26'11"
9 Heymann-Segal Mitsubishi + 8h17'35"
10 Novytskyi-Kondratiiev Mitsubishi + 10h20'01"