Posted on July 15, 2019

The expansive sands of the Gobi Desert are having the final say at the 2019 Silk Way Rally. On the ninth stage there were plenty of ups and downs in the general classification. Now with just one stage remaining it’s now or never for the leading competitors to stake their claim for glory.

The leading car race crew of Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA) stand on the verge of history ahead of the final stage. They have set the fastest time on all eight timed stages at the 2019 Silk Way Rally. Already this puts the Toyota Hilux duo in a league of their own. If Al-Attiyah and Baumel were to go quickest tomorrow, it’s unlikely their record of winning every stage at an international class event such as the Silk Way would ever be matched. “We will give everything we have to win this rally and make sure we can celebrate in Dunhuang.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah

There have been contrasting fortunes for the bikers of the Red Bull KTM Factory Team over these final stages in China. Bike race leader Sam Sunderland (GBR) recovered from his fall on yesterday’s stage to extend his advantage at the front of the race today. 2017 Dakar Rally winner Sunderland will be using all of his experience on tomorrow’s final stage to protect his 22-minute lead. “There was a lot of broken and dangerous track today, it was a very physical day. I’m happy to get another day done, they saved the toughest for last that’s for sure.” – Sam Sunderland

Sunderland’s KTM team-mate Luciano Benavides (ARG) was hit with a five-minute penalty at the end of yesterday’s stage eight due to losing his timecard. Benavides is now over 10 minutes off a podium finish with just one stage remaining. The third Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider at this edition of the Silk Way Rally is Laia Sanz (ESP). Sanz has been improving on every stage of the Silk Way and goes into tomorrow’s final stage standing seventh overall in the bike race. “I will try to keep my position in the overall classification tomorrow. Today was another tough, tough day. I think it was even worse than yesterday.” – Laia Sanz

Teamwork was on display from the three leading truck crews of Kamaz on the penultimate stage. The tactics of Team Kamaz Master allowed race leader Anton Shibalov (RUS) to extend his overall lead with a stage win. “It was a tough stage so we needed to concentrate on bringing our truck over the line. To win the stage was totally unexpected.” – Anton Shibalov. Shibalov was followed through the Gobi Desert by team-mates Andrey Karginov (RUS) and Ayrat Mardeev (RUS). Karginov remains second overall, one place ahead of Mardeev. Will Kamaz be celebrating a 1-2-3 result tomorrow in Dunhuang? “We enjoyed our time in the dunes and all the offroad sections. Our purpose was to carry on towards the best result for the team.” – Ayrat Mardeev

Before the 2019 Silk Way Rally comes to an end all remaining competitors must tackle the 255-kilometre special stage between Jiayuguan and Dunhuang. A fast stage set among twisting roads and dry riverbeds could yet supply a sting in a tail.

2019 Silk Way Rally: Stage 9 Results

Car: Top 3

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA)   Toyota Hilux   03:52:17
2. Wei Han (CHN)/Liao Min (CHN)   SMG Buggy   Buggy   +00:09:12
3. Eric Van Loon (NLD)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA)   Toyota Hilux   +00:09:24

Bike: Top 3
1. Andrew Short (USA)   Husqvarna   03:52:28
2. Paulo Goncalves (PRT)   Hero   +00:00:43
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA)   Yamaha   +00:01:45

Truck: Top 3
1. Anton Shibalov (RUS)   Kamaz   04:03:15
2. Andrey Karginov (RUS)   Kamaz   +00:08:52
3. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS)   Kamaz   +00:11:25

2019 Silk Way Rally: Overall Rankings after Stage 9

Car: Top 3

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA)   Toyota Hilux   21:57:59
2. Wei Han (CHN)/Liao Min (CHN)   SMG Buggy   +01:10:46
3. Jérome Pelichet (FRA)/Pascal Larroque (FRA)   Optimus   +01:39:43

Bike: Top 3
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR)   KTM   23:27:27
2. Andrew Short (USA)   Husqvarna   +00:22:51
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA)   Yamaha   +00:23:42

Truck: Top 3
1. Anton Shibalov (RUS)   Kamaz   23:25:12
2. Andrey Karginov (RUS)   Kamaz   +00:24:48
3. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS)   Kamaz   +00:37:29