Fourth and fifth stage of Africa Eco Race-201303 january 2013, 18:05
Kazakhstan's Astana team crews were successfully at both the fourth and fifth stages of the Africa Eco Race-2013.
Mebar M440 T2 offroader crew of Kanat Shagirov and Aleksander Moroz finished the fourth stage in the 1st place in their T2 class and in the 14th place in the general standings. They covered the Special Section of the stage in 4 hours 42 minutes and 44 seconds, only 39 minutes and 5 second behind the leader.
Kazakhstan's second crew - T1 Bowler crew of Yuriy Sazonov and Arslan Sakhimov - had to miss the fourth stage to a great disappointment of its fans. They broke down in the middle of the third stage and had to urgently repair their vehicle in the field. Although they managed to fix it and get to the finish line of the stage, they failed to fully bring their car back to life and had to miss the fourth stage.
The 451 km Oued Draa to Gwirat Larjam stage had 343 km of liaison and only 108 km of a special section.
The first part was composed of a very beautiful undulating track, often sandy, rocky in the passes and difficult on the descent to Mseid. Then the big rolling track ended abruptly in the middle of nowhere giving way to a mostly rocky track in a magnificent setting with some trial sections. Once out of this hard section, the rhythm returned to normal on a fast gravel track that is sometimes sandy. After crossing two green river beds that could have water in them at this time of year, there was 100 km of pure driving fun on a fast sandy track. The finish of the Special was at As Skan or Shave El Khenfra as the Moroccans call it.
Jean-Louis Schlesser and Cyril Esquirol from Sonangol Schlesser won the fourth stage, but the victory did not comw easy this time. Their closest competitors Jerome Pelichet and Xavier Panseri from Loomans Racing put up a hard fight. Czech Miroslav Zapletal and Maciej Marton from Offroad Sport finished the stage in the third place.
Jean-Louis Schlesser and Cyril Esquirol from Sonangol Schlesser managed to retain their leadership after the forth stage and stay 11 minutes and 14 seconds ahead of Pelichet and Panseri from Loomans Racing. Belgian crew Jacques Loomans and Frits Driesmans also from Loomans Racing are in the third place overall.
Kazakhstan had two crews in the fifth stage once again. During the January 2 stage they covered 689km across the territory of Morocco (from Gwirat Larjam to Dakhlan). The stage had 331km of the Special Section and 352km of liaisons.
However, the third crew of Astana (Marat Abykayev and Zhanat Zhalimbetov) that failed to make a start on the first day of the race because of a technical failure had three days to repair their vehicle. But they failed to repair it in the set time and had to withdraw from the race before the fifth stage.
Mebar M440 T2 offroader of Kanat Shagirov and Aleksander Moroz once again came 1st in their T2 class and were ranked 21st in the general standings. The crew's time was 4 hours 16 minutes and 34 seconds. The crew was 15th to start the stage.
Kanat Shagirov (R) and Aleksander Moroz (L). ©Tengrinews.kz
Initially they were the only Kazakhstan crew expected to drive through this stage, because Astana's second crew - Yuriy Sazonov and Arslan Sakhimov T1 Bowler - broke down during the third stage of the race. Although their managed the repair in the field and make it into the finish of the third stage, they failed for restore their car before the fourth stage and missed it. The break down was so complicated because it was an engine failure and the crew had to disassemble the engine in the field and reassemble it back. The team's mechanics managed to finish fixing the engine during the night before the fifth stage right in time for the start.
Kazakhstan's T1 Bowler crew of Yuriy Sazonov and Arslan Sakhimov completed the fifth stage in 4 hours 13 minutes and 28 seconds and were ranked 20th overall and 15th in their T1 class. Their stage was successful in spite of the technical problems they had during the third stage. Sazonov and Sakhimov were 42nd to start the stage.
The Gwirat Larjam - Dakhlan stage was the last stage in Morocco and the last stage before the rest day. Its special section began with a fast track with soft passages. Competitors followed the Hamra river bed for a while on a good often narrow track of soil, sand and gravel with very few rocks and with series of small bumps. The vehicles left the river bed and took a fast gravel track before attacking the ascent of a very beautiful pass and descend into a magnificent bowl. The second part of the stage was different, with fast tracks as far as the finish but from beginning to end, it required good navigation made difficult by the lack of landmarks. The arrival at Boujdour was easy to drive.
French racers Jerome Pelichet and Xavier Panseri from Loomans Racing won the fifth stage. They managed to leave back the long-time leaders of the general standings, Jean-Louis Schlesser and Cyril Esquirol from Sonangol Schlesser. Russian racers Anton Grigorov and Sergey Mishin from Vnesheconombank Rally-Raid came third.
However Schlesser and Esquirol have retained the overall lead in the general standings after the first five stages. They are followed by Pelichet and Panseri from Loomans Racing. Miroslav Zapletal and Maciej Marton from Czech team Offroad Sport are in the third place. The crew of Sazonov and Sakhimov are ranked 18th and Shagirov and Moroz stand at the 21st place.
The participants of the rally are yet to overcome 7 more stages and finish at the Pink Lake in Dakar on January 9. January 3 is a day off for the racers.