Astrakhan, Russia: Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and his French co-driver Matthieu Baumel stayed clear of trouble and moved into an outright lead of 2min 30sec after a challenging loop stage of 311 kilometres through the Takyr desert around Astrakhan in southern Russia on Saturday.
Overdrive Racing’s Al Attiyah who drives a Toyota Hilux with support from Red Bull, the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF), Ooredoo Qatar and Toyota GAZOO Racing and run on the event by the Belgian car preparations company, led the stage from start-to-finish and overcame navigational hurdles to set the winning time of 3hrs 36min 23sec.
That gave the two-time Dakar Rally winner a 2min 30sec advantage over England’s Harry Hunt at the end of the day.
Al Attiyah was first into the opening Astrakhan loop stage in his Toyota and was given the task of navigating and opening the road. The crew began well and began to edge away from the chasing pack, as rival Harry Hunt stopped to change a puncture and Joan Roma was forced to retire through pain caused by an ongoing neck injury sustained at the Dakar Rally in January.
Al Attiyah reached PC1, after 118km, 2min 33sec in front of Hunt. The Qatari maintained his lead to the stage finish
2018 Silk Way Rally – positions after SS1:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 3hrs 36min 23sec
2. Harry Hunt (GBR)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Peugeot 3008 DKR 3hrs 38min 53sec
3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 3hrs 56min 50sec
4. Dennis Krotov (RUS)/Dmyrro Tsyro (UKR) BMW X5 4hrs 16min 52sec
5. Andrey Rudskoy (RUS)/Evgenii Zagorodniuk (RUS) G-Force Proto 4hrs 31min 34sec
6. Matthieu Serradori (FRA)/Fabian Lurquin (BEL) MCM Original 4hrs 33min 35sec