A MINI threesome take the top four positions after SS5


It was another good day for the MINI All4 Racing team on the 2016 Silk Way Rally as three out of the four crews occupied the top four positions after SS5.

Today’s stage took crews from Astana to Balkhash, which also saw a brief change in the race lead. As it was the longest stage in the race, Yazeed Al Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk were the lead MINI All4 Racing crew, finishing second.

However, the Saudi Arabian didn’t have things his own way, suffering with three punctures at different stages of the leg, as well as a stop to clean the windscreen due to the mud, making road visibility difficult in his MINI. Nonetheless, he finished second, and third overall in the Silk Way Rally time sheets.

Kazakhstan’s Aidyn Rakhimbayev and Russia’s Anton Nikolaev were the next MINI All4Racing crew to finish the stage in the top four in third. There was a reversal of fortunes for Britain’s Harry Hunt as he finished with his co-driver Andreas Schulz the last of the three MINI’s in fourth place.

Vladimir Vasilyev and Bauyrzhan Issabayev were the last of the MINI All4 Racing crews to finish the stage in sixth and thirteenth positions respectively.

Al Rajhi said after SS5 I think this was the longest stage in my life because it is not only long but also technical; it’s very difficult when you have a stage like that.

“The goal today was to attack and I told my co-driver that the aim was to finish third. He was not sure that we could do it, but I told him to fasten his seatbelt and enjoy the drive! After 50 or 60k, we caught up to Cyril [Despres] and then it was attack, attack, attack to pass him, but after 80/90k we had the first puncture, after 150k, we had the second puncture and at 180k to 200k, the third puncture. Even after that and stopping to clean the mud from the screen, we finished second, which was better than our target!

Hunt spoke about his steady run to fourth, adding “Today was good; it was the longest stage I’ve ever done, so it was interesting. We had a couple of small issues but nothing major so it was a nice and steady pace for a good finish.