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Silkway Rally Diary - Part 5: Prime Minister Putin's Visit

Börries Jacques
Silkway rally diary - part 5
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N after seven days of rally the field of participants has increased Clearly cleared at the Silkway Rally, 31 of 43 starters are still in the field, of 16 trucks that have started 13th remain. The last participant was 25 hours behind, plus up to 204 hours of time penalties for missed waypoints. The last big Silkway rally stage with 340 kilometers special stage lies ahead of us. For the last day, only 16 kilometers are planned and a change in leadership or catching up is almost impossible.

Tactics in the Silkway Rally

This is how different tactics crystallize in the Silkway rally aiming for a day's victory, safety vs. Risk. In the end, a lot of stamina is again required for this long stage, and this is of course already significantly reduced among the participants in the lower ranks, most of them are amateur drivers. We look for another interesting point in the road book: It is just before the goal, so we have to start again in the dark to be there in time. After about eight kilometers we come to an artificial obstacle: two concrete pipes were placed on the path of the Silkway Rally and covered with earth, so that there is an ideal ski jump for the faster cars.

Abbreviations are forbidden at the Silkway Rally

We have a clear view of the field, so that we can watch the Silkway rally participants for minutes before they pass us on the ramp to fly. Abbreviations across the field are strictly prohibited. The dirt roads have their pitfalls: on the straights at the Silkway Rally top speeds are reached, at which even small depressions in the ground can have a major impact. Therefore, these are also recorded in the Silkway rally road book. On this dry dirt road lies the finest, called 'Fesh Fesh', which looks like dry sand, but behaves like mud when you drive over it and causes meter-high plumes of dust behind the vehicles.

Finally the first Silkway rally vehicles arrive and we get nice snapshots of flying cars in the box, which leave long plumes of dust behind them. More cars pass by, then there is a gap. Finally, engine noise announceand a plume of dust on the next car. I can see the car through my telephoto lens and see it take off and roll over at full speed. The car rises three, four or five meters in the air, the spare wheels fly ten meters high, and finally the car lands on the roof and overturns again.

Pilots survive the accident almost uninjured

We immediately drive the approx. 1.5 kilometers to the scene of the accident and find both Silkway rally drivers relatively unharmed. One of them is bleeding from his head and lies on the floor, the other is walking around aimlessly. Wreckage is spread over tens of meters, fuel leaks from the torn out tank and the car lies on its side. The roll cage could not withstand the impact and is badly deformed. Behind them, the Silkway rally race trucks roll past at a slightly slower pace, we try to protect the injured from the fine dust. Finally, the Medical Helicopter comes, a normal helicopter on which a doctor flies with an emergency bag.

The sand sheets are converted into a makeshift stretcher and the injured passenger is carried into the helicopter. This takes him to a larger hospital some distance away, where possible internal injuries can also be diagnosed. Lucky in bad luck, that's rallying too. In the evening we hear that the passenger's condition is stable. The cause of the accident is not clearly recognizable, was it a carelessness at the end of a long stage? Did the Silkway rally driver want to avoid a depression in the way and switched to the field where the depression was even deeper?

Prime Minister Putin visits the Silkway Rally

After that the shock had settled we had to hurry to get into the bivouac, the gate should be closed today at 5 p.m. We reached the gate at 4:59 p.m. and found out the reason after arriving: An important guest was expected in the bivouac, after a short time it was clear: Prime Minister Putin had registered. After the usual safety precautions had been taken, the presidential plane landed around 9 p.m. After a brief visit to the Kamas trucks, Putin came to the Silkway Rallye-Race-Touaregs and had Carlos Sainz explain the cockpit and the engine to him in detail.

After he had been shown the built-in jack, he wanted to know the price of the car. A new customer? Carlos Sainz dampened expectations by pointing out that it was a second-hand vehicle: well maintained, but not always treated with care. After dinner, the prime minister floated away with a deafening noise from the jets and we retired to the tents.

Numerous water crossings at the Silkway Rally

The next Silkway Rally stage was the spectacular conclusion of the total of 4,000 kilometers from SanktPetersburg to Sochi and a total of 2,014 kilometers special stage. This number was not chosen randomly, but was intended to refer to the Olympic Winter Games held there in 2014. The stage included numerous water crossings. One of the drivers said: 'We didn't need a road book, just going up the river would have been enough as an instruction'. When driving through water, the technology is always important, both the technology of the car, which should not be influenced by the water, and the technology of the driver.

Shorter and flatter passages can be taken quickly, which in this case leads to the desired aquaplaning. Longer and deeper river crossings have to be driven more slowly so as not to lose direction. The Silkway rally drivers did not quite agree on this passage, some drove to safety, but the majority did not want the show effect of the high fountains to be lost and drove through the river at full speed, the race trucks agreed: full throttle!

Silkway rally award ceremony

The Silkway rally winners were duly celebrated with champagne and trophies, and were happy and satisfied, the marathon is over, the winners are, like last year, Carlos Sainz im Race Touareg 3 with its co-driver Lucas Senra. The evening ends 120 kilometers further in the Grand Hotel Polyana with a gala dinner and fireworks. Here in the mountains it is suddenly conceivable that there could be enough snow here for the Winter Olympics. We look forward to Sochi 2014.

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