Former Tatra driver Ales Loprais raced his MAN to 4th place in this year’s Silk Way Rally. Here is the Instaforex Veka Team report.
Stage 5: Bad Luck at the End: Getting Stuck in the Mud, Ales Loprais Drops to the Final Fourth Overall…
It should have been a final decisive battle for the victory between Nikolaev and Loprais. In reality, everything is different: the muddy trap from Stage 5 brought unexpected losses…
Everything is reversed, both in car and truck categories. All attention in the trucks was paid to the rivarly of Loprais and Nikolaev. Loprais entered the stage first, being the stage winner from the previous day, and his time lag behind Nikolaev was 8m45s on 460 kilometers of the final special. The situation seemed to be far from hopeless. However, one of the river crossings became a muddy trap, in which Ales’ truck got stuck. The InstaForex Eurol Veka driver left nearly 100 minutes in it. The immediate help of Peter Versluis was not big enough and the crew had to get the truck out of the trap by itself.
The situation was even more of a bad luck when Nikolaev experienced engine problems and got stuck in the mud as well. Four of his team mates were pulling him from the trap. In the meantime, organizers showed all followers a different way to cross the river, leaving Ales Loprais on his own.
In the meantime, Ayrat Mardeev and Peter Versluis crossed the river in a different place and marched to the finish, securing the first and the second places, which they did not even hope in at the stage’s beginning. Verluis finished third in the stage and second overall, securing the best career result in cross-country rallying. It was Martin van den Brink with his Ginaf to finish second today, which took him to the TOP10 in the overall classification. Nikolaev finally got to the finish with an almost three-hour loss and dropped to sixth overall. Ilgizar Mardeev also dropped by two places.
When Ales got released from the trap, it was a matter of beating Nikolaev in the stage and possibly finishing not too late behind Shibalov who lost another 40 minutes but Loprais’ misfortunate gave him good chances for the overall podium. He finally managed to retain it by only 5 minutes, leaving Ales Loprais fourth. At normal circumstances, Ales could have retained last year’s victory but nothing is decided until a race is finally over…
The final results were posted already at Maykop and the stage to Gelendzhik was canceled. It was the shortest and the most modified Silk way Rally in the history. Only five stages run are nothing the organizers could be truly proud of for a rally that intends to be No. 2 of its kind in the world..
“Unfortunately we paid a bad due for starting first today. In the roadbook there was a river crossing and we ran it correctly. After all the rains, the riverbed was extremely muddy and we got stuck. At a similar place, Nikolaev got stuck as well but four of his Kamaz colleagues pulled his truck out. Given his engine problems, we could have decided the race for ourselves today. Organizers directed all of our competitors to a safer place and left us there. We protested but were rejected. The jury’s decision is strange in my opinion but that’s all I can do against it. It was a great test for the Dakar but I am sorry we could not retain our victory from the last year,” Ales Loprais said.
Stage 4,Elista – Elista, special 381 km: Ales Loprais wins and Maintains Second Overall
Ales Loprais wins Stage 4 despite health problems after a mighty finish, in which he outlines both elite Kamaz drivers. Peter Versluis takes first podium position.
It may have seemed like a dream stage and Ales Loprais has won a couple of them at Silk Way Rally already. However, it was far from being trouble-free. After heavy rains in the Kalmykian region, the special was unfortunately shortened to 381 kilometers. At CP1, Ales kept fourth place. The race was directed by Ayrat Mardeev who held a 15-minute advantage ahead of the InstaForex Eurol Veka Team driver. Nikolaev, the overall leader, was already ahead by 10 minutes.
In the second half, everything got inversed. Ales managed to gain 15 minutes over Nikolaev and won the stage by 4m06s.Ayrat Mardeev had bad luck and finished the stage only sixth, some 35 minutes adrift. That means fastening the second place for Loprais, about 8m45s adrift of Nikolaev. Everything will be decided in Stage 5.
So, was it an ideal stage? Not at all: “It was one of the worst stages of my career. Shortly after the start, I got an attack of flu again. Fevers and cold shivers were embracing me and sometimes the weakness was so high I could not even hold the steering wheel. I though of giving up, also for the first time in my career. I drank as much liquids as possible, more then ten liters and all of them got sweat out to my overall and the seat. Right after crossing the finish line I fell out of the cab and threw up,” Ales Loprais said before getting to the care of race doctors.
“However, the decisive moment was spotting the blue Kamaz of Nikolaev on the horizon. I had not realized how fast I had been driving all the stage. I started pushing very hard to pass him but mainly to get rid of all the suffering. The sooner the better. The first place is nice, almost a miracle but as you see, it is not enough yet. Then I took our fast MAN to the bivouac and went to race doctors. Stage 5 will bring 460 kilometers of specials and today’s situation should not happen again,” Ales concludes.
The race organizers have announced that on respect to the victims of the Krasnodar natural disaster, the race will be finished after Stage 5 in Maykop, even without any official ceremonies. Gelendzhik will not be the final town. This year’s Silk Way Rally will be the shortest one in the history.
Ales Loprais Grabs Back Second Overall from the Muddy Track of Stage 3
Even especially harsh climatic conditions did not prevent the InstaForex Eurol Veka crew from rising in the overall standings.
Stage 3,Volgograd – Elista, special 260 km
Stage 3 of the 2012 Silk Way Rally was originally scheduled for a 457-kilometer long special, which should have been a mixture of savannah tracks and at the end the beginning of the Kalmykian desert. However, heavy rains of the past days made the first part of the stage uncrossable, and so the racing field ran only the final 260 kilometers.
Ales Loprais has tested the handling qualities of his MAN truck on a muddy surface. More than that, on a technical and muddy track he had to face the beginning flu with fevers. At the only checkpoint of the day, he showed up fourth overall, just a minute adrift of the Eurol Veka MAN team owner, Peter Versluis, who later gained time losses and finished only 9th. In the second part of the special, he pushed hard to get back the lost standings and finally finished second, only 5m37s adrift of the sovereign leader of the whole race, Eduard Nikolaev. More importantly, he managed to gain the second overall again from the young Ayrat Mardeev whose father is covering the back of the entire sbornaya as a very competent rapid assistance. However, Ales’ time advantage over Mardeev is only counted in seconds…
“Today’s stage was very hard, technical and muddy. We faced several mechanical problems. Most importantly, we had a problem with the navigation device and had to cross several waypoints several times until they were recorded. It was very nervous and hectic because without waypoints you can’t reasonably continue the race. Then I got a flu with fevers. Later on, I made a driving mistake in the dunes, the missed gearshift cost me over half a minute. But we keep rolling on. Minimum of two upcoming stages will be very hard and exhausting,” Ales Loprais said at the finish of the special.
As the car category is not fielded as strong as at the Dakar, Eduard Nikolaev is even the overall leader of the whole race in the combined rankings. Ales holds a very complimenting third overall.
Stage 4 will be a loop at Elista. The whole special, 506-kilometer long, will be run in the Kalmykian desert and we will witness another battle of the reds and the blues for the top spots. However, time differences will surely rise.
Stage 2,Volgograd – Volgograd, special 309 km
Ales Loprais Holds Third Overall After Stage 2 of Silk Way Rally 2012
The loop stage around Volgograd presented the next episode of the battlle of “the blues against the reds”. Ales Loprais kept in the lead for a long time but finished third.
New kinds of terrain were brought with the new stage, mainly the long awaited sands and dune fields. It was the dune sections that reduced the average speeds of the 309-kilometer long stage wit two checkpoints, down to 75 kph – with the best trucks claiming podium positions of the car category overall. Ales started the stage second but quickly gained time over his main rivals, the Kamaz youngsters Nikolaev and Mardeev. At CP2, Ales was in a virtual lead of the overall classification. However, he dropped to the third spot due to navigational flaws at the end of the stage.
“The Russians did not pass us today as we reached the finish in a different route, which is a pity. The opening three quarters of the stage worked perfectly for us and we all enjoyed the ride very much. At the final part, however, we made some navigational mistakes and that cost us valuable time. We even had to stop and ask Russian police for the right way. The show is going on, though, and we are still in the bid,” Ales Loprais said at the finish of the stage, after which he dropped to third overall behind the young Ayrat Mardeev.
A solid fourth overall is held by Eurol Veka Man Team owner, Peter versluis, who scored another fourth spot as a stage result and presented another prgres in this specific kind of motorsport.
The crews are experiencing problems with de-hydration. “After the finish of the stage, I had to drink four our energy drinks ‘69′ and four liters of water. The losses of water are enormous,” Ales adds.
Stage 2 was not entered by the MAN truck of Franz Echter (gearbox) and the Tatra of Vaclav Svoboda (engine).
Stage 3 will take the racing peloton to Elista at the edge of the Kalmykian desert where the decisive part of the race will be held. The total length of the specials is already exceeding the current standard of the Dakar and will attack 500 kilometers.
Stage 1, Ryazan – Volgograd, special 265 km
Ales Loprais Opens Silk Way Rally 2012 Second in the Opening Special
The fist special from Ryazan to Volgograd gave first impressions on the real balance od power of the main contenders.
Ales Loprais finishes it 2nd in the truck category, with a close gap adrift of Eduard Nikolaev. The InstaForex Eurol Veka team driver started the special as the first truck driver. Being the last years’s SWR winner, he could enjoy the lowest starting number, 300.
The route of the opening special was fast. The fist half took place in the Savannah of the European Russia but the second half, as it approached to Volgograd, was quite sandy, with numerous small dunes. Ales Loprais kept a steady distance behind the young Russian who took advantage of his knowledge of domestic terrains. Nevertheless, it was only an opening special of a race whose decisive part is still to come. The main task for Ales was getting acquainted with the truck and the new racing crew.
“Today it was a good and a fast special for the opening of the race. The fist half was WRC-like before the sands close to Volgograd. The second place is fine but I would not overestimate it. Kamaz started in a great style, as expected. We are trying to keep the pace and hope we will succeed,” Ales cncludes at the finish of the fist stage.
Another Eurol Veka MAN team driver, Peter Versluis, confirms the good opening with the 4th place. Unfortunately, the stage could not be finished by Franz Echter (broken gearbox) who got eventually towed by the Tatra of Vacav Svoboda who had to quit due to the broken engine. http://www.svobodatatrateam.cz/ Even one of the favorites, the Kazakh Ardavichus, gained 1.5 hours of time losses.
All info supplied by Jiri Vintr/ Instaforex Veka Team
|1||301||Ayrat MARDEEV||KAMAZ MASTER||003:06:59||000:06:04||003:59:51||003:12:25||000:10:41||005:35:14||000:34:45||004:11:56||n/a||n/a||020:06:25|
|2||311||Peter VERSLUIS||EUROL VEKA MAN RALLY TEAM||003:09:05||000:08:10||004:16:01||000:16:10||003:28:26||000:26:42||005:07:22||000:06:53||004:35:59||000:24:03||n/a||n/a||020:36:53||000:30:28|
|4||300||Ales LOPRAIS||INSTAFOREX EUROL VEKA TEAM||003:05:27||000:04:32||004:05:44||000:05:53||003:07:21||000:05:37||005:00:29||005:50:33||001:38:37||n/a||n/a||021:09:34||001:03:09|
|7||305||Steven ROTSAERT||RR BELGICA||003:34:45||000:33:50||005:02:30||001:02:39||003:50:55||000:49:11||006:24:49||001:24:20||004:55:58||000:44:02||n/a||n/a||023:48:57||003:42:32|
|8||318||Iakov MEKHTIEV||RENAT-TRANS TEAM||003:37:19||000:36:24||004:48:58||000:49:07||003:44:23||000:42:39||006:58:04||001:57:35||004:48:40||000:36:44||n/a||n/a||023:57:24||003:50:59|
|10||319||Martin VAN DEN BRINK||MAMMOET RALLYSPORT||003:22:45||000:21:50||005:30:18||001:30:27||003:25:01||000:23:17||005:46:12||000:45:43||004:33:24||000:21:28||n/a||n/a||024:37:40||004:31:15|
|11||312||Aleksandr VASILEVSKIY||MAZ-SPORT AUTO||003:46:08||000:45:13||005:16:04||001:16:13||003:45:07||000:43:23||006:33:10||001:32:41||007:09:29||002:57:33||n/a||n/a||026:29:58||006:23:33|
|13||327||Alexandr SCHMIDT||AMERICANOS RACING TEAM||007:49:58||004:49:03||007:59:55||004:00:04||005:06:28||002:04:44||009:06:37||004:06:08||006:03:07||001:51:11||n/a||n/a||036:11:05||016:04:40|
|14||316||Siarhei VIAZOVICH||MAZ-SPORT AUTO||007:34:56||004:34:01||006:28:23||002:28:32||003:27:25||000:25:41||006:59:47||001:59:18||006:41:06||002:29:10||n/a||n/a||037:11:37||017:05:12|
|16||317||Sergei KISELEV||G-Force Motorsport||007:17:52||004:16:57||006:52:05||002:52:14||004:37:29||001:35:45||007:53:32||002:53:03||049:00:00||044:48:04||n/a||n/a||078:40:58||058:34:33|
|17||321||Michel BOUCOU||BMG BOUCOU||004:44:27||001:43:32||008:48:59||004:49:08||006:18:39||003:16:55||033:00:00||027:59:31||007:00:00||002:48:04||n/a||n/a||162:52:05||142:45:40|
|20||325||DOMOWNIK||NAC RALLY TEAM||004:44:49||001:43:54||006:31:55||002:32:04||005:08:09||002:06:25||122:00:00||116:59:31||006:53:02||002:41:06||n/a||n/a||248:17:55||228:11:30|
|21||323||Paul ROUND||RALLYRAID UK||004:53:58||001:53:03||043:00:00||039:00:09||005:59:52||002:58:08||122:00:00||116:59:31||007:01:03||002:49:07||n/a||n/a||388:57:53||368:51:28|
|n/a||302||Franz ECHTER||EUROL VEKA MAN RALLY TEAM||008:00:00||004:59:05||074:00:00||070:00:09||003:44:17||000:42:33||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|n/a||304||Mathias BEHRINGER||HAMBURGER SOFTWARE||003:56:06||000:55:11||037:00:00||033:00:09||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|n/a||313||Vaclan SVOBODA||SVOBODA TATRA TEAM||108:00:00||104:59:05||057:00:00||053:00:09||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|