· Kenderly Sea Resort on the Caspian Sea to host rally bivouac for three days on May 22-24
The Automotorsport Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan has finalised an ambitious six-day route for the fifth round of the 2017 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, which will test crews and their machines to the limit. The event starts and finishes in the main square in Aktau City and runs between May 20th and 27th.
Rally officials have planned a meticulous route for the Central Asian country’s first appearance in the world’s premier cross-country series. Pre-rally formalities will take place adjacent to the shores of the Caspian Sea in Aktau City, but the event will then move to the Kenderly Sea Resort, located around 220km from Aktau, for three nights after the second selective section on May 22nd.
The opening Aktau-Aktau stage takes place on May 21st and will run for 268.23km in a northerly loop of the coastal region between the ex-Soviet military base of Fort Shevchenko and Aktau in a day’s route of 337.63km.
Stage two heads east out of Aktau City and winds its way in a loop via the town of Ushtagan and south of the oil and gas hub of Zhanaozen to finish just north of Kenderly. The stage is split into two sections of 325km and 41.6km by a short neutralised track of just 1.4km in length.
The next two selective sections on May 23rd and 24th loop around the deserts further east and to the north of the Kenderly Sea Resort and closer to the remote town of Senek. They run for 421km and 276.20km, respectively.
The penultimate stage guides the surviving teams back to Aktau City via a competitive section of 370.90km in a day’s route of 499.60km. The action begins to the north of Kenderly and makes its way in an anti-clockwise direction to a finish close to the small town of Zhetybay.
A shorter sixth and final loop stage of 147.94km, north of Aktau City, brings the action to a conclusion on May 26th. In a compact total route of 2,500.37km, 1852.57km will be competitive.
Rally officials will also run a National class for vehicles not conforming to FIA T1, T2 and T3 regulations and a separate section for T4 machines.
“We have laid on a challenging six-day route which we know will provide a stiff test for every level of competitor,” said Marat Abykayev, President of the Automotorsport Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, who actually tackled last weekend’s Dubai International Baja, round two of the 2017 FIA World Cup, in a Toyota Land Cruiser with navigator Andrey Chipenko and was inside the top five in the highly competitive T2 category before retiring on the final stage.
“Kazakhstan is blessed with some superb terrain for cross-country rallying and I am sure that many competitors will enjoy the challenge of our sand dunes and the nature and beauty of our special stages for the first time.”
Many of the world’s leading off-road drivers from teams such as Overdrive Racing, X-Raid, the G-Energy Team, South Racing, the QX Rally Team, and 4WD Jaton Racing are expected to tackle the event for the first time and are aiming to follow in the footsteps of the two previous winners of an event that was founded in its current format in 2014.
The experienced Kazakh driver Yuriy Sazonov claimed victory last year with navigator Dmitro Tsyro in a Mobilex Racing Team-run Land Rover Bowler. Tsyro had teamed up with Andrey Cherednikov to snatch the win in 2015 in a Polaris RZR 1000.