Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah and his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel maintained their Rally Kazakhstan lead after the fourth of six legs, the Toyota Hilux Overdrive duo measuring their pace over the second longest section of the event.
The battle for second position continues to be fierce and Jakub Przygonski and Timo Gottschalk retook the advantage, the MINI crew moving back into second ahead of Bernhard Ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul.
Thursday’s 399.24 kilometre section provided yet another mix of conditions, overnight rain adding to the challenge as the crews once again powered over dunes, camel grass, fast muddy tracks and standing water. With nearly 12 minutes in hand this morning, Al Attiyah could afford to be tactical, the Qatari eyeing a second Rally Kazakhstan win and another 2019 victory in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.
“It was a long stage and we didn’t take risks, it wasn’t necessary to push,” said Al Attiyah, who was fifth fastest through the section. “We will have a better road position for tomorrow and can hopefully retake another two or three minutes if possible; we’re just keeping an eye on ‘Kuba’ (Przygonski) and Ten Brinke.”
Przygonski was third fastest, ahead of rival Ten Brinke, to move back up the standings to second overall with exactly one minute separating the two crews.
Ten Brinke slipped from second to third in the overall standings, dropping one minute and 27 seconds to Przygonski but the battle remains intense as the crews fight for precious seconds.
The husband and wife duo of Stephane and Andrea Peterhansel also had a good day, the John Cooper Works Buggy crew second fastest to Al Rajhi. “It was a really nice stage and different types of tracks again,” said Stephane.
Miroslav Zapletal and Marek Sykora hold a fine fifth, the leading privateers behind some of the world’s top cross country crews. They are nearly six minutes ahead of the Russian team of Denis Krotov and Dmytro Tsyro, the MINI crew with a significant advantage over Kazakhstan’s Andrey Cherednikov/Ignat Falkov who hold seventh.
Yazeed Al Rajhi and Dirk Von Zitzewitz claimed their first stage win of the event by three minutes, powering their Toyota Hilux Overdrive through the section in 3 hours 43 minutes and 53 seconds.
Mohammed Al Meer and Alexey Kuzmich continue to lead the T2 category ahead of the penultimate leg of Rally Kazakhstan which takes the crews north from the Aktau bivouac for a 290.19 kilometre section.