A clean run through the 208km-long timed section of Stage 2 of the 2019 Silk Way Rally saw Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al Attiyah (Qatar) and navigator Mathieu Baumel (France) extend their overall lead in the rally to 13min53sec.
The pair clearly found a good rhythm on the day’s stage, carding a time of 2hrs 15min 51sec, beating second-placed driver Lui Kun of China (SMG Buggy) by 7min40.
After reaching the bivouac at Ulan-Ude in Russia, Al Attiyah said: “Today’s stage had a lot of different types of terrain, but we managed to go at a good pace and avoid damage to the Toyota Hilux. Now we have a good lead, which we can try to manage over the coming days.”
There was disappointment, however, for the two non-works Toyota Hilux crews on Stage 2. Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi started the day in third position, after he and German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz lost time on the opening stage due to a slow puncture. But technical issues halted their progress after WP1 (52km), despite them setting the fastest time to that point. They initially stopped on the track for more than 15 minutes but lost significantly more time as the stage continued.
A propshaft problem saw Dutch driver Erik van Loon, together with French navigator Sebastien Delaunay, cede more than two-and-a-half hours to Al Attiyah/Baumel after just 100 km of the stage. The pair will have to dig deep in order to claw back positions over the following days.
Eight stages remain in the ten-stage Silk Way Rally, which will see crews compete over a total distance of 5000km, before reaching the finish in northern China. This event is widely considered to be the toughest cross-country race after the Dakar, and is a true test for the crew and the South African-built Toyota Hilux.