After a service night without help of mechanics and engineers, contestants had to overcome SS of 332 km, from finish of which 110 km of liaison left to Astrakhan bivouac.
Organizers announced the third stage as a fast steppe section with challenging navigation and sand, bushy area closer to the finish. The weather made its adjustments for today and first two CPs of the special were covered with water and for some crews the promised fast section turned into impassible bog. For example, the race leader in category T2 famous Qatari racer Nasser Al-Attiyah after yesterday’s breakdowns couldn’t cope with floated steppe and lost his lead in the ranking. Unfortunately, Russian KAMAZ-master crews faced the same problems: Andrey Karginov’s truck was stuck on 120th kilometer after the start. The bonnet truck of Eduard Nikolaev came to help, but unfortunately the rescue operation failed and second Russian crew fell into the same trap. Appeared in time Anton Shibalov managed to pull them out. After helping his teammates Shibalov moved to rescue the Belorussian crew of Siarhei Viazovich and got into troubles by himself. Washed out after the rain, the solonchak became his trap. Fortunately, driving by Martin Van Den Brink pulled out Anton’s truck, after which KAMAZ and another MAZ together could pull out completely stuck in the mud Siarhei Viazovich. In the end, weather conditions made organizers stop the race and finish the special after the 1st CP.
It helped to keep the status quo in the race, notwithstanding a lot of force majeure, happened to many contestants after 140th kilometer. After passage of the 1st control point the best time was shown by KAMAZ-master pilot Dmitry Sotnikov. Martin Van Den Brink showed the second best time, Airat Mardeev finished third. All contestants described today’s stage as a very difficult one.
Dmitry Sotnikov – pilot of crew No300:
“Today some places were like a hell, generally it was impossible to drive on the terrain. I think nobody awaited before today’s start that it would be so difficult on the special, moreover that on today’s briefing the race officials promised much the same day as yesterday, but the weather made serious adjustments. The picture changed dramatically. If in the beginning it wasn’t so slippery, everything was under control, it was clear how to drive (just at the lower speed), then, when the rain increased, the truck just started to go down, became unsteered, visibility was almost zero and somehow you had to drive. There were no thoughts to drive fast. Only one thought – try to move, the truck was sinking on almost straight road, it hardly started and almost didn’t brake”.
Airat Mardeev – pilot of crew No303:
“Generally we were ok, we started, went at our own tempo: it was wet, very slippery, you had to get used to an automatic gear box. Then we saw stuck Andrey Karginov, Edic was already helping him, they waived us, we drove further. Then the whole distance we were going alone. Actually, everything was fine, but very slippery, especially between the 1st and 2nd control points. It was terrible, we didn’t understand what was going on. But we were careful, saw how many vehicles got stuck, therefore slowed down, just stopped several times as windscreen wipers stopped working due to overheat. In general, all ended well, we finished. We are very glad that we were not allowed further as after were solonchaks and it would be even more unhappy and sad”.
Sergey Kuprianov – pilot of crew No311:
“Today it was clear from the very beginning that it would be slippery, but it turned out even more difficult than we thought. As San’ka – co-pilot (ed.note Aleksandr Kuprianov – navigator of crew No311) characterized today’s special in two words: “Tokio drift”. We constantly were going on one side or the other, constantly sideslipping, it was impossible to stand in the tread, because windscreen was poured with rain, you couldn’t see anything, and you couldn’t drive on the grass as the truck was sinking in. I don’t have much experience driving KAMAZ on such a terrain. I never had to drive in the rain. Therefore at first it was quite hard but then we “rolled into” and I even felt how to do it. Today we used gas, it was needed more than ever, as there were places where you had to drive across some covered with water coombs with grass, holes. Here your truck is important to pull you out, to have enough engine power when rotation starts to drop, so that it could bring you to a dry place. And here, of course, gas helps a lot, because it keeps the power and torque at a lower rotation better than a normal diesel engine”.
Eduard Nikolaev – pilot of crew No301:
“Today we started well, took a good speed, but the weather took its toll. On the way we saw stuck in mud Andrey Karginov’s truck. We decided to pull it out. There was a tough squishy ground, where truck was just sinking. Andrey was standing not so well: four wheels fell in, he was “sitting” severely on axles. We overdrove him and decided to try, though these things are hard to do with an automatic gearbox. His truck just seemed going, but then my truck got stuck. Both of us stayed in the mud trap unmovable. Fortunately, Anton Shibalov came. Already learnt through experience, we connected all ropes that we had, he drove farther to the firmer place and pulled out first our truck and then Andrey Karginov’s one and we continued to move. We saw Siarhei Viazovich, who also decided to travel around this swampy area, went to the right, along bushes, canes and got stuck completely”.
Anton Shibalov – pilot of crew No306:
“Today there was everything and a lot: we pulled out three trucks, and Martin Van Den Brink pulled us out. Situation on the track was that it was just impossible to overrun standing vehicles. After we pulled out two our crews of Nikolaev and Karginov, we went to help Viazovich, and while we were approaching stealthily, got stuck ourselves: displeasing solonchak after rains turned into a big swamp. It was impossible to rescue ourselves, we had to wait for the other trucks to come, lost approximately 15-20 minutes on that. Very fast Martin Van Den Brink, literally in two minutes pulled us out, and we, coming to Viazovich with another MAZ truck were pulling him out for about 15 minutes. All together we spent there about an hour. In general there were no other losses. Today’s terrain was entire clay, where a truck could hardly be managed: this mass, if it is sideslipped, very difficult to stop and steer to the needed direction”.
Results of the 3rd Stage:
1. Crew № 300 Sotnikov D. (КАМАZ-master)
2. Crew № 304 Martin Van Den Brink (MAMMOET RALLYE SPORT) + 4 min. 57 sec.
3. Crew № 303 Mardeev А. (КАМАZ-master) + 6 min. 38 sec.
4. Crew № 311 Kuprianov S. (КАМАZ-master) + 15 min. 07 sec.
5. Crew № 308 Sugawara Т. (HINO TEAM SUGAWARA) + 18 min. 11 sec.
6. Crew № 301 Nikolaev E. (КАМАZ-master) + 28 min. 54 seс.
7. Crew № 309 Karginov А. (КАМАZ-master) +33 min. 11 sec.
8. Crew № 306 Shibalov А. (КАМАZ-master) + 58 min. 56 sec.
1. Crew № 300 Sotnikov D. (КАМАZ-master)
2. Crew № 303 Mardeev А. (КАМАZ-master)+ 26 min. 27 sec.
3. Crew № 309 Karginov А. (КАМАZ-master) +34 min. 58 sec.
4. Crew № 311 Kuprianov S. (КАМАZ-master) + 49 min. 18 sec.
5. Crew № 306 Shibalov А. (КАМАZ-master) + 1 hour 24 min. 07 sec.
6. Crew № 308 Sugawara Т. (HINO TEAM SUGAWARA) + 1 hour 31 min. 53 sec.
7. Crew № 301 Nikolaev E. (КАМАZ-master) + 2 hours 07 min. 29 sec.
8. Crew № 304 Martin Van Den Brink (MAMMOET RALLYE SPORT) + 215 hours 31 min. 14 sec.
Foto DPPI, M.Chytka