2017 Rally Kazakhstan; Rd 5, FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup
Munich. For the first time, Rally Kazakhstan is an official round of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup – and MINI with motorsport partner X-raid is going all out for a result in the 2017 edition. The 2500 km race distance takes place on the Western side of this former Soviet Union territory, amongst the dunes and steppe regions east of the Caspian Sea. Three MINI crews are confirmed for this maiden race.
Following the required technical scrutineering (20th May) of all competing vehicles and competitor safety equipment, the start of Rally Kazakhstan begins Sunday 21 May with Stage 1, a stage of 337.6 km, of which 268.2 km are the special timed stage. There then follows five further stages over five days, the final stage and race end completes on Friday 26th May, when the competitors fight the last kilometres back to the starting point of Aktau City.
Mohamed Abu Issa (QAT) and co-driver Xavier Panseri (FRA) presently lie in third place in the overall standings of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup. As was expected, this latest rally-raid partnership is becoming a formidable package at the controls of a MINI race car and under the direction of the vastly experienced X-raid team.
Taking up the challenge of a new arena on relatively unknown ground is the rapid duo of Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) and Timo Gottschalk (GER) taking charge of an all-new MINI John Cooper Works Rally (#202). No stranger to desert conditions, Al-Rahji will no doubt be on the pace in the sand and dunes sections that form a serious part of this new international cross-country rally.
If recent success – second position on the rostrum at Round 4, Qatar Cross Country Rally – is anything to go by, then the eyes of cross-country supporters should keep a sharp look out for former Dakar motorcyclist and Drift champion Jakub Przygonski (POL). Once again the experienced Tom Colsoul (BEL) is in the Orlen Team (#206) co-driver seat to guide the Polish driver through the race stages.
2017 Rally Kazakhstan – leading starters (unofficial)
201. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive
202. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Mini All4 Racing
203. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive
204. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SLO) Hummer H3 Evo VII
206. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing
207. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini All4 Racing
208. Viktor Khoroshavtsev (RUS)/Anton Nikolaev (RUS) BMW X3 CC
209. Yuriy Sazonov (KAZ)/Vitalyi Yevtyekhov (KAZ) Hummer H3 Evo VIII
210. Antanas Juknevicius (LTU)/Darius Vaiciulis (LTU) Toyota Hilux
211. Zhanat Zhalimbetov (KAZ)/Vladimir Demyanenko (RUS) Toyota Hilux
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – standings after round 4:
1. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE) 105pts
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT) 90pts
3. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT) 68pts
4. Martin Prokop (CZE) 54pts
5. Yasir Saeidan (SAU) 53pts
6. Aron Domzala (POL) 44pts
7. Jakub Przygonski (POL) 42pts
8. Leeroy Poulter (ZAF) 32pts
9. Yayha Al-Helai (ARE) 28pts
10. Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU) 24pts, etc
Follow the rally live:
Aktau City – a brief description
Known as Shevchenko from 1964 to 1991 – after the exiled Ukrainian poet of the same name – Aktau (meaning ‘white mountain’ in Kazakh) was created as a uranium mining town in 1961. It is now a seaport and major hub for the oil and gas industry on the Caspian Sea and is the capital of the Mangystau region of southwest Kazakhstan. It has a unique block address system, with almost all streets inside the city having names and addresses replaced by a series of three numbers (district/building/apartment). Tourism is popular with mainly Kazakh visitors to the Caspian beaches in the summer months.
2017 Rally Kazakhstan: MINI line-up