Driving an X-raid MINI John Cooper Works Rally alongside Belgian navigator Tom Colsoul, the winner of April’s Qatar Cross-Country Rally posted a time of 3hrs 24min 35sec for the varied 327.47km stage and the former enduro rider will now open the road on day four.
With Al-Rajhi dropping 5min 03sec to the stage winner, Przygonski’s closest championship rival Martin Prokop (Ford F-150 Evo) carded the second quickest time - 48 seconds behind the Pole - to consolidate fourth in the overall rankings.
Al-Rajhi’s co-driver Timo Gottschalk said: “Today was a beautiful stage with really nice landscape. We did not push so much today. We are still leading the race and everything is going to plan.”
Prokop added: “The stage was very different and a little more difficult than the two before. We did no mistakes. That was nice for us and we tried to keep a good rhythm. The navigation was good and the car was behaving well. There were a lot of drops and holes in the road. The last part, there were a few cars together and it was very dusty. The camel grass here is terrible to pass. But it was good to warm up in the dunes at the start.”
The third fastest time pushed the Russian crew of Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov down to a similar position in the overall standings in their MINI Cooper Countryman.
X-raid team director Sven Quandt said: “It was another good day for us and the MINIs finished in good positions. Yazeed still leads, Jakub is second and Vasilyev is third. Still we have three difficult days to go.”
Frenchman Luc Alphand set the fifth quickest time to maintain his fifth in the rankings with his X-raid’s MINI Buggy, but delays for Harry Hunt enabled Russian driver Andrey Rudskoy to move into sixth - the G-Force driver leap-frogging Viktor Khoroshavtsev in the last of the MINI John Cooper Works Rally at the same time. Boris Gadasin climbed to eighth with the sixth fastest time.
“Today was one of the nicest stages,” said Alphand. “Half of the stage was like being in Africa in a big valley with sandy tracks and some trees. The landscape was beautiful and we also had the dunes at the beginning. We had high-speed, everything, dunes, sand and we really enjoy. We were up the cliffs sometimes and then we could see the valley with the big rocks. It was fantastic.
“But we are not here as a tourist, we are here for racing, so again we had two punctures and we had to drive 300km without a spare wheel. We try to improve the car every day. The potential is there and our pace is good. We have to bring the car to the finish. This is a nice place to race.”
Harry Hunt’s topsy-turvy event continued in the PH Sport Peugeot 3008 DKR. The Briton recovered well from first day delays to hold sixth at the start of day three, but ongoing gearbox problems cost him a lot of time and he struggled through the special at a slow pace in first and second gears. The Briton finished the stage ninth in the overall standings, while Yerden Shagirov rounded off the top 10.
Hunt said: “It was not great today. We started fifth on the road. For the first 12km the dunes were good and the track was good but, at km113, our gearbox broke. We stopped for over half an hour to try and fix it. We were stuck in third gear. We finished the rest of the stage at about 60km/h per. Not good.”
South Racing’s Fernando Alvarez began the third stage in 12th overall, but the Spaniard incurred 100 hours of time penalties after transmission issues and slipped to the foot of the rankings. “After 70km, we broke the clutch and had to retire and we will fix the car for tomorrow. Racing is like that. It is easy to have problems.”
Frenchman Ronan Chabot also stopped in the special in the last of the Overdrive Racing Toyotas and incurred a similar time punishment from rally officials.
Kazakhstan’s Kirill Chernenkov began the stage with an advantage of 9min 15sec in T2 over Russia’s Konstantin Ivanov and increased that lead to 15min 12sec. Both OFF-ROAD Kazakhstan’s Marat Abykayev and Qatar’s Adel Abdulla had lost over one and a half hours and 2hrs 45min, respectively, in the second stage, but the Qatari bounced back strongly with the fastest time on day three in his rented Toyota Land Cruiser. Abykayev retained third place, ahead of Adel Abdulla.
“This is my second rally,” said Abykayev’s son and co-driver Nursultan. “I was here last year with my father. It has been quite tough navigation and sometimes they split into five different routes and I have to explain which one to go down. We got slightly lost once yesterday and lost 10 or 15 minutes.”
After his first stage disappointment on Monday, Frenchman Patrice Garrouste followed up his fastest time on the second stage with another T3 category win on day three, but the massive time penalties have ruined his chance of winning the section. Spaniard José Pena Campo started day three 16min 26sec in front of Santiago Navarro in T3, but delays for the leader pushed Navarro into an unofficial lead of 11min 10sec. Local driver Dmitry Pitulov retained third, despite incurring 100 hours of time penalties on day three.
Team Kamaz Masters driver Andrey Karginov maintained his advantage in the National Rally and would have been classified ninth overall in the main FIA event.
Tomorrow (Thursday), the fourth selective section of 398.57km heads out of the Kenderly resort and skirts the nearby oil city of Zhanaozen before returning to Aktau City, where the event will then be based for the remaining two days.
2018 Rally Kazakhstan – positions on SS3:
1. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 3hrs 24min 35sec
2. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford F-150 Evo 3hrs 25min 23sec
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) MINI Cooper Countryman 3hrs 26min 40sec
4. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 3hrs 29min 28sec
5. Luc Alphand (FRA)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) MINI John Cooper Works Buggy 3hrs 35min 52sec
6. Boris Gadasin (RUS)/Igor Petenko (RUS) G-Force Bars 3hrs 37min 32sec
2018 Rally Kazakhstan – positions after SS3 (unofficial @ 16.20hrs):
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 9hrs 52min 52sec
2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 9hrs 56min 52sec
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) MINI Cooper Countryman 9hrs 57min 36sec
4. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford F-150 Evo 10hrs 03min 42sec
5. Luc Alphand (FRA)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) MINI John Cooper Works Buggy 10hrs 18min 47sec
6. Andrey Rudskoy (RUS)/Evgenii Zagorodniuk (RUS) G-Force Bars 10hrs 37min 30sec
7. Victor Khoroshavtsev (RUS)/Dmitry Pavlov (RUS) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 10hrs 44min 26sec
8. Boris Gadasin (RUS)/Igor Petenko (RUS) G-Force Bars 10hrs 51min 53sec
9. Harry Hunt (GBR)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Peugeot 3008 DKR 12hrs 03min 58sec
10. Yerden Shagirov (KAZ)/Vladimir Demyanenko (RUS) Toyota Hilux 12hrs 28min 06sec
11. Denis Krotov (RUS)/Dmytro Tsyro (RUS) BMW 3 CC 12hrs 28min 24sec
12. Jürgen Schröder (DEU)/Daniel Schröder (DEU) Nissan Navara 13hrs 04min 15sec