CC Pole Przygonski holds early initiative in Rally Kazakhstan as Saudi rival Al-Rajhi crashes and breaks Mini's suspension
2017 Rally Kazakhstan
For immediate release
Sunday, May 21st, 2017
POLE PRZYGONSKI HOLDS EARLY INITIATIVE IN RALLY KAZAKHSTAN
AS SAUDI RIVAL AL-RAJHI CRASHES AND BREAKS MINI’S SUSPENSION
· Qatar’s Al-Attiyah and Poland’s Aron Domzala in second and third places
· Persistent low-lying fog causes long delay to start of opening Aktau loop stage
AKTAU CITY (KAZAKHSTAN): Poland’s Jakub Przygonski and Belgian navigator Tom Colsoul were the early leaders of the inaugural Rally Kazakhstan, after a 268.23km loop stage around the remote deserts of the Mangystau oblast to the north of Aktau City, on Sunday.
Low-lying fog in the Caspian depression had delayed the start of the day’s action by 2hrs 20mins, but it failed to stop the Pole clocking a time of 2hrs 32min 56sec in his Orlen Team Mini All4 Racing to open up an unofficial lead of 56 seconds over Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French navigator Matthieu Baumel in their Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux.
Fellow Pole Aron Domzala settled in well to hold third overall in the second of the Belgian-run Toyota Hiluxes and Czech Miroslav Zapletal was fourth in his Hummer H3 Evo VII. Yuriy Sazonov began the defence of his Rally Kazakhstan title strongly by holding fifth in a second Hummer and fellow Kazakh driver Yerden Shagirov rounded off the top six.
Qatar’s Mohammed Abu Issa held sixth overall until he stopped for nearly an hour with technical issues after 218.66km of the stage. Lithuania’s Antanas Juknevicius and Russian Viktor Khoroshavtsev duly moved up to seventh and eighth in their respective Toyota Hilux and BMW X3 CC.
Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi endured a disappointing start in his X-raid Mini John Cooper Works Rally and suspension damage after an awkward jump forced him to stop after 81km of the special. “It happened at a big jump and the car landed on one wheel at the rear, sideways, and the suspension broke,” said X-raid team director Sven Quandt.
Saudi Arabia’s Yasir Saeidan and Qatar’s Adel Abdulla were evenly matched in the T2 contest. Saeidan managed to edge into an unofficial lead of 26 seconds over his Qatari rival. Marat Abykayev was a close third, while Patrice Garrouste held the advantage over T3 rival Claude Fournier on the opening stage.
Sunday – as it happened
Fog and gloomy conditions greeted the crews to the start of Rally Kazakhstan after some overnight rain in an area that had already been affected by heavy rain three days before the rally. The recce team of Thierry Magnaldi and Gilles Picard reported that stretches of the opening stage were very muddy, but no major changes were made to the route of the first stage.
After the late arrival of their cars from the border with Turkmenistan on Saturday evening – following a recent border closure – Jakub Przygonski and Adel Abdulla were permitted a late scrutineering time on Sunday morning. The X-raid mechanics had worked into the night to prepare Przygonski’s car, as the container had been forced to leave Qatar straight after the last round in April and there had been no time to change vital parts beforehand.
Al-Attiyah eventually led 19 rivals into the opening loop stage and the FIA crews were followed by several cars and a MAN truck, driven by Artur Ardavichus, entered in a National Rally. The stage start was delayed for 2hrs 20mins, however, on safety grounds because of low-lying fog and thick cloud cover.
Al-Attiyah settled into a fast pace and began to pull away from the chasing pack, but Al-Rajhi stopped with his suspension damage after 81km. The Qatari continued to run in front from Przygonski, Domzala, Zapletal and Shagirov on the northerly run passed nearby Fort Shevchenko, but Przygonski went on to reach the stage finish in a time of 2hrs 32min 56sec to snatch the stage win. It was a fast stage by Kazakhstan standards, but more demanding and varied desert terrain is on the schedule for the coming days.
A liaison of 100.10km guides teams to the start of the second 368km selective section, east of Aktau City. The stage winds its way in a loop via the town of Ushtagan and south of the remote oil and gas hub of Zhanaozen to finish 28.5km north of the Kenderly Sea Resort, close to the border with Turkmenistan.
2017 Rally Kazakhstan – positions after SS1 (unofficial @ 15.45hrs):
1. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing 2hrs 32min 56sec
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 2hrs 33min 52sec
3. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 2hrs 35min 42sec
4. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SLO) Hummer H3 Evo VII 2hrs 36min 48sec
5. Yuriy Sazonov (KAZ)/Vitalyi Yevtyekhov (KAZ) Hummer H3 Evo VIII 2hrs 39min 25sec
6. Yerden Shagirov (KAZ)/Dmitro Tsyro (UKR) Toyota Hilux 2hrs 43min 49sec
7. Antanas Juknevicius (LTU)/Darius Vaiciulis (LTU) Toyota Hilux 2hrs 49min 15sec
8. Viktor Khoroshavtsev (RUS)/Anton Nikolaev (RUS) BMW X3 CC 2hrs 54min 55sec
9. Yasir Saeidan (SAU)/Alexey Kuzmich (RUS) Toyota Land Cruiser T2 3hrs 11min 01sec
10. Adel Abdullah (QAT)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Nissan Patrol T2 3hrs 11min 27sec
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Kenderly (Kenderli) – a brief description
The Kenderly Sea Resort will host the rally bivouac for three nights from May 22-24. Located 210km south of Aktau, it is the location for a large tourism construction project by the Government of Kazakhstan in the Mangystau oblast. Up to 23 hotels, 8,000 villas and cottages for 40,000 guests are planned on the shores of the Caspian Sea within close proximity to the border with Turkmenistan. The first stage of the project has now been completed under Kazakhstan’s 2020 Tourism Development Concept and plans for Kenderli International Airport have also been approved.
Zhanaozen – a brief description
Known as Novy Uzen until October 1993, Zhanaozen means ‘new river’ in Kazakh. The town was founded in 1964 - after the opening of the Uzen oilfield that is owned and operated by state-owned KazMunayGas - and is susceptible to strong winds and extreme winter and summer weather conditions.
For further media information: Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, international media officer, 2017 Rally Kazakhstan, Marriott Renaissance Aktau Hotel, Media Centre, Kazakh mobile: + 7 701 9954306, UK mobile: +44 7831 123153, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, Twitter: @LordPerkins.