MINI All4 Racing have four of their cars in the top ten after Thursdays sixth leg with Friday being a rest day in the Silk Way Rally.
The stage was shortened after the first 111 kilometres and 70 liaison kilometres. Therefore, the organisers had no choice to cancel the second special stage.
Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov were the lead MINI All4 Racing crew, finishing fourth in Leg 6 and running third overall, three minutes ahead of their team-mates Yazeed Al Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk in fourth place.
Aidyn Rakhimbayev and Anton Nikolaev were in fifth place, over two minutes behind Al Rajhi and Gottschalk. Bauyrzhan Issabayev and Vladimir Demyanenko were the last of the four MINI All4 Racing crews to make the overall top ten places in ninth.
Britain’s Harry Hunt and co-driver Andreas Schulz completed yesterday’s leg in seventh, but would have been higher if the stage wasn’t shortened. But the pair are the only MINI All4 Racing crew to be outside the overall top ten positions in twelfth place.
Vasilyev’s co-driver Zhiltsov said after Leg 6 “It’s been good but a tiring race so far. After crossing into another country, it is three hours plus. This doesn’t leave a lot of time to prepare the road book for the next day, which we have to do but we also need to sleep. Two days ago, I slept for two hours! This night, it will be more. We are in a good position for the second part of the race and ready to fight more.
“I believe the rally will really start in China because there will be two sandy days in the dunes. This will be new for us; new for everybody after last week’s racing. It is said they are high dunes with difficult sand. We will see what happens because if you are stuck in the dunes, it could mean a minimum of 20 minutes lost. This means everything overall can change.”
Al Rajhi spoke about their luck this week, saying “For me it is good but we have been unlucky this week, three punctures in one day were enough. We overtook cars and could have gained 18 minutes, but the punctures meant losing 14 minutes because of the high temperature in the long grass, we lost another seven minutes. Bad luck! I’m hoping the bad luck will now leave. The second week will be a difficult week – long and tough. I hope there will be no surprises because we have had ours!”
Hunt added “The days have been harder than expected but really good. I’ve really enjoyed all of it. The road section’s liaison is really, really tiring. The second part of the rally will be really interesting with the dunes as we go into China. This is where time will be won or lost.”
The Silk Way Rally will continue on Saturday with Stage 7 as the teams and crews leave Kazakhstan and venture into China.