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TOYOTA STILL LEADS, DESPITE TOUGH DAY IN KAZAKHSTANMay 31, 2019
- 1ston Stage 5 for Al Rajhi/Von Zitzewitz
- 4thon Stage 5 for Al Attiyah/Baumel
- Disappointment for Ten Brinke/Colsoul
AKTAU, KAZAKHSTAN – Another strong performance by Yazeed Al Rajhi and Dirk von Zitzewitz saw a Toyota Hilux win the fifth consecutive stage at Rally Kazakhstan, but it was a tumultuous day for the two Toyota Gazoo Racing SA crews competing in the event, which forms part of the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
Stage 5 saw the crews start and finish in the city of Aktau, though there was a liaison of 162 km linking the city to the timed section of 296 km. For Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel, the stage turned into a true test of character after only 35 km.
The pair, who currently find themselves tied on points with MINI’s Stephane and Andrea Peterhansel for the championship, were forced to stop early on in order to force the software in their car to bypass a troublesome sensor. This took longer than expected, but once they had the Toyota Hilux back on the road, the winners of Dakar 2019 didn’t hold back.
“We were flying over the last parts of the stage,” said Al Attiyah from Aktau. “Unfortunately, we lost some time early on, but these machines are so advanced that sometimes a small problem can have you on the sidelines for much longer than you’d like.”
According to the time-sheets, Al Attiyah/Baumel were by far the fastest crew over the last 200 km of the stage, which saw them keep the lead of the rally despite the trouble early on. They are now 5:38 ahead of the Peterhansels (MINI), with Jakub Przygonski and Timo Gottschalk, in another MINI, holding on to third place.
It was a disappointing stage for Dutchman Bernhard ten Brinke and his Belgian navigator Tom Colsoul. The pair were up to third place in the overall standings after four of Rally Kazakhstan’s six stages, and were looking good for a podium finish.
“Unfortunately, we ran into some really tricky terrain on Stage 5, and in trying to get ourselves out of trouble, we broke a driveshaft on the car,” explained Ten Brinke after returning to the bivouac via the asphalt road, rather than completing the stage. “In the end we lost so much time that we’ve dropped right out of contention. But we’ll finish the rally regardless.”
Only one stage remains in Rally Kazakhstan – a relatively short test of 150 km, with a liaison of 44 km. The stage will start and end near Aktau, after which the official podium will take place near the bivouac in the same city.
“A lot can happen tomorrow,” concluded Al Attiyah after Stage 5. “But we are still in the lead of the rally, and all we can hope for is a clean run tomorrow. To have Stephane Peterhansel behind you is much better than having him in front of you – but even so, we’ll be keeping a close eye on their progress.”
Rally Kazakhstan is Round 4 of the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, but the Turkmen Desert Race, which was slated for early May, was cancelled. This means that Rally Kazakhstan is the third race of the season, and the penultimate chance to score points, as the series concludes at the Rally of Morocco in early October.
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