It seems that the Transsyberia Rally 2008 is all about Porsche as it keeps winning leg after leg. The 13th one was finished in first place by the Spanish Team, Paul Soler and Laia Peinado. With their Cayenne S they managed to leave behind their competitors, the Danner/Szekers Mercedes team and the overall leaders Lavielle/Borsotto of France. The French team only achieved the third place but they still hold a 2:18 h advantage over Soler/Peinado in the general classification.
Like on all previous days of competition, victory on leg 13 of the Transsyberia Rally 2008 powered by Sony Ericsson went to Porsche. Putting in an immaculate drive, Pau Soler and co-driver Laia Peinado of Team Spain left all opponents behind them in their Cayenne S Transsyberia. Second went to the Mercedes team Christof Danner and Jan Szekeres ahead of the overall leaders Team France. Christian Lavieille and Francois Borsotto drove a controlled race to claim third in today’s classification and now hold a 2:18 hour advantage over Soler/Peinado.
“We took things easy on today’s special stage,” revealed Christian Lavieille. “We have more than an hour’s lead and weren’t prepared to take any risks. The wonderful thing about this is that we could enjoy the breathtaking scenery. And we reached the finish without any problems. We will drive slowly and cautiously again tomorrow. But as we all saw last year, anything can happen even on the last leg.”
Pau Soler and Laia Peinado also experienced a perfect day. “We won today’s leg – and we’re thrilled,” beamed Soler at the finish in Mongol Els. “We could remember some of the passages from last year and that helped us. Actually, we’d expected the special stage to be much tougher. Above all the river crossings were easy compared to 2007. Through Armin’s problems we were even able to move into second overall. It’s fantastic to come from 23rd after the first stage to where we are now.”
Thrilling competition is the order of the day in the fight for second at the final special stage of the 2008 Transsyberia Rally tomorrow. Armin Schwarz and Andi Schulz from Team Germany 1 forfeited over an hour with electric problems and now lie in third around 13 minutes behind Team Spain. “We’ll attack tomorrow, even when we know it’s difficult to make up 13 minutes over just 87 kilometres. But as they say, it’s over when it’s over,” says the determined ex-European rally champion. Schwarz and his co-driver Andi Schulz had held a clear lead today until their charge was halted.
Further comments from Porsche pilots:
Pedro Gameiro (Team Portugal): “Our plan for today was to win third position back from the Spaniards. We tried everything but unfortunately it didn’t work. We lost our way and instead increased the gap. After we realised this we eased off to conserve the Cayenne. At one point my concentration flagged and I hit a bump. It looks as if our car is okay. Tomorrow we’ll drive slower, avoid any risks and defend our fourth position.”
Denis Levyatov (Team Russia 1): “At the extremely gruelling special stages in Mongolia you really have to drive with caution. We were very careful today and had no trouble finding the right route.”
Yoshifumi Ogawa (Team Japan): “We experienced no problems today and it was great. The scenery in Mongolia is simply glorious. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s stage and to finishing. But we will be quite sad that it’s over, because Tokyo looks a little different from the countryside between Oelgy and Ulaanbaatar.”
Thomas Steuer (Colombian Arrow): “We had a lot of bad luck today. After we fought our way through to second behind Pau Soler we got a puncture. But if that wasn’t enough our car jack gave up the ghost and we lost over 30 minutes until Carles Celma stopped to help. Only then did everything go well. We reached the finish without any further problems. We’ll take it easy tomorrow. There’s an hour between us and seventh and two hours to ninth behind us, so we have a little leeway.”
Paul Watson (Team Australia): “Our Cayenne was sensational today. We were sitting second with about 15 kilometres left to the finish. It was our stage. Then we had a technical problem and the car couldn’t keep going. In the end an ambulance towed us back to camp with the lights flashing. That was an interesting experience.”
Lars Kern (Team Germany 3): “When you’re plagued by bad luck it sometimes doesn’t want to let you go. That’s what happened today. We started the special stage from 19th and charged through to ninth after 76 kilometres. Everything looked good and we were hammering along. Then our left-front shock absorber gave up. Unfortunately, the day was written off.”
The fourteenth and final leg of the Transsyberia Rally runs over 368 kilometres from Mongol Els to the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. After the last 87 kilometre special stage there will be a show-stage over 11 kilometres. The time is not added to the overall classification. The Transsyberia Rally started on 11th July on Moscow’s Red Square and finishes on 25th July in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar after a total of over 7,000 kilometres.
Overall classification Transsyberia Rally 2008 after the 13th of 14 legs
1. Lavieille/Borsotto Team France Porsche 26:07.47 hrs
2. Soler/Peinado Team Spain Porsche 2:18.57 hrs behind
3. Schwarz/Schulz Team Germany 1 Porsche 2:31.01
4. Gameiro/Figueiredo Team Portugal Porsche 2:56.23
5. Levyatov/Talantsev Team Russia 1 Porsche 3:58.02
6. Celma/Unger Team Germany 2 Porsche 8:20.17
7. Baier/Steinbring Teambuctou Toyota 9:32.47
8. Pfeil-Schneider/Steuer Colombian Arrow Porsche 10:54.23
9. Szustkowski/Kazberuk STT Racing Porsche 13:15.41
10. Millen/Godby Team USA Porsche 17:36.14