Kamaz driver, Airat Mardeev, prevailed in the truck competition, while his Russian compatriot, Boris Gadasin, was the fastest among cars as the Silk Way Rally concluded in the city southern of Maikop.
The rally was initially scheduled to finish in the Black Sea resort of Gelendzhik, but the event was reduced to five stages after the flooding tragedy in the Krasnodar Region last week which killed 170 people.
The final stage, which covered 348 kilometers from Elista in Kalmykia to Maikop in the Russian Republic of Adygea, saw plenty of drama, with those in the lead failing to hold on to their advantage.
In the truck category, Kamaz’s man, Eduard Nikolaev, got stuck in a swamp and then suffered steering gear failure just 40 kilometers from the finish line, letting teammate Mardeev grab the win.
“It is hard to put all these emotions in words. The scores are unbelievable because I started this morning thinking about taking third place,” Mardeev told the Silk Way Rally’s official website. “In the last kilometers we had a puncture but I did not stop so we kept on going on three wheels. I heard we won when we arrived to the bivouac. I understood that in a rally raid, mistakes are not allowed. The least error must be paid in cash immediately."
"The Silk Way Rally is really a great preparation for the Dakar,” he concluded.
MAN’s Peter Versulis and another Kamaz driver, Anton Shibalov, completed the podium, while Nikolaev had to settle for sixth place.
Technical problems of Christian Lavieille Jerome Pelichet paved the way to victory for Russia’s Boris Gadasin from the GForce team.
“This morning I had to stop to change a disc brake rotor, during the time we were repairing, about 20 minutes, no one passed us,” Gadasin said. “We thought other drivers were having troubles and maybe we had a chance to win. When we started again, I gave everything I could! I cannot compare this edition with the two precedent ones when I did not make it to the finish line, it was hard, so that makes me even happier with the results.”
Balazs Szalay from Opel Dakar Team was second, with Offroadsport’s Miroslav Zapletal right behind him.
Gadasin also topped the overall classification beating the Mardeev’s truck by 3 minutes and 34 seconds.
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