DARWAZA - TURKMEN LAKE : 256,61 KM
A BIG DAY FULL OF EMOTIONS
The third stage of the Turkmen Desert Race gave once again, some strong emotions to the competitors. Big dunes made a lot of mechanical and navigation issues to some of the team. It was important to be careful and focused in order to reach the finish line. Same story for the assistance which had to drive on a sandy track for 150 km to find the bivouac, by night for some…
DUNES AND TROUBLES
Across those 236,64 km of stage, fast but twisting tracks offered a tricky playground for the competitors. René Metge made them drive along the railroad strewn with sandy plots and dry lake to join an empty river where they had to drive for several kilometers. The vehicles then joined a small erg who guided them to one of the few bridges in Turkmenistan before arriving on very fast tracks on the heights of Lake Karakum.
For some, everything went well, as for Nani Roma (ESP - MINI), winner of its 2nd stage on the rally. Catalan was able to count on his co-driver Alex Haro who gave him the perfect route. The Spanish pair does a clean sheet with the best time of the day in 3h03mn35.
On their way, they passed the Peugeot of Harry Hunt (GBR) and Wouter Rosegaar (NEL) broke down at kilometer 105. A misfortune that permits Roma to feel more comfortable and to keep his advance without taking any risk.
A complicated day though for the winners of yesterday who had to leave their car an the sweeper truck because their gearbox broke.
Good day for the Kamaz truck of Airat Mardeev (RUS) finishing 2nd, 17mn28 after the leader.
He finished right in front of Miroslav Zapletal's Hummer (CZE) who took advantage of the misfortunes of the others, because despite a small navigation error, the Czech saw the Turkmen Mini Hojaguly Annamammedow out of the track by making 3 barrels. An impressive crash but without injuries for the crew who was able to finish the stage.
The first T2 is the Kazakh Nissan Kirill Chernenkov and Alexey Mun.
HAPPY DESPITE ALL
In the SSV category, honor to Papi Ruffier! This 79-year-old driver finished first in his category and joined the camp with a smiling face. Jean-Claude was even applauded by the boss Jean-Louis Schlesser as he arrived to CP1, passing in the first 20. His Can-Am, very well guided by his co-driver Jerome Bos went into the dunes quiet easily following the roadbook. The dean of the race was able to enjoy the bivouac made by the Turkmen: "they are great, there is soap, towels and even toothpaste in the showers! It is incredible what they do, this organization is a pure success, as much on the side of the Turkmen as on the side of the teams of Jean-Louis. "
They, too, had a smile on their faces when they arrived at the bivouac but not for the same reasons. Mathieu Serradori (FRA) and Fabian Lurquin (BEL) were just relieved to end a new day of troubles. A new mechanical problem makes them lose more than 2 hours and all hope of finishing on the podium of the 1st edition of the Turkmen Desert Race. A podium that seems on the other hand well intended for Nani Roma who is now nearly 1 hour ahead of Zapletal. The third place belongs for the moment to Mardeev's truck only 9 minutes after Zapletal.
But no matter the result, whether being competitors or assistance, all were delighted to discover the view of the lake lining the evening camp. While waiting for the last ones, they shared their misadventures, always in a spirit of solidarity, helping each other, all while Turkmen riders paraded in front of the vehicles at sunset.
Nani ROMA (ESP - MINI): "It was a demanding special with parts of old tracks covered by sand and dunes. There were chotts to cross and the navigation was difficult. Besides I went straight instead of turning left at kilometer 6, my mistake, and I had trouble finding the right track. After CP2, it was faster, we passed Hunt who was stopped and we managed the race without taking risks. If we continue like this we can win, now we must stay focused and make no mistake. "
Airat MARDEEV (RUS - KAMAZ): "We are happy, it was an interesting stage with a different field from what we have seen so far. The tracks were winding, there was a lot of navigation, I am very satisfied with my young co-pilot. We managed to see Roma’s Mini and we could follow the good track as there were not really any traces. "