ASTANA – Over six days and in 40-degree desert heat, two Astana Dakar Rally Team crews finished in the top 10 after the race in Morocco on Oct. 13-19.
“It was a very good result for our team,” said Gabdulla Ashimov, co-pilot of the T1 HiLux Overdrive crew.
“We made it to the top 10 after only one year of racing, and the year was tough. We started out this year in poorly equipped cars; we were exhausted all the time due to finishing late; we didn’t have the time to fix our cars; but with hard work, a strong will and the help of the Astana Presidential Club, we now are in the top 10. We are finishing races a lot earlier in the day, so we have time to learn the roadbook and talk to experienced mechanics and drivers. We even have the time to rest properly,” Ashimov said.
The crew had a chance to finish with even better results, but chose to stop to help another crews in trouble.
“On the last stage, with a five-minute gap [between our car and the next], our 301 crew stopped to assist a flipped Polish crew in a Toyota. Unfortunately, the human factor is not stipulated in regulations, but for our crew human lives are more important than a good result,” Ashimov said. Ashimov burned his hands helping a different crew.
“The Russian crew lead by Uspensky flipped in front of us; they almost hit some agricultural machinery that was nearby. The outcome of the crash could have been very dangerous had they hit the machinery. Their doors got jammed and myself and my teammate helped them out the car. We had to break the door to get them out and lost about 7-10 minutes, but as I said, we can’t leave people in trouble and at that moment we didn’t care about the results. It happened just 20 kilometres from the finish line. We then continued and a helicopter appeared to rescue the Russian crew.”
Before the major Dakar event in Latin America in January 2014, Astana Dakar has serious work to do, according to Ashimov.
“Already, 40 world-famous racers have signed up for the race in 2014, so it will be a difficult race. Tommy Makkinen, the great rally racer, will consult with our crews and I will travel to Lithuania to do an extensive training on mechanics. Morocco was a good practice session for us,” he said.
Kazakhstan’s rally crews of Aidyn Rakhimbayev and Konstantin Zhiltsov finished sixth and Bauyrzhan Isabayev and Gabdulla Ashimov finished eighth in the T1 category driving the HiLux Overdrive while Denis Berezovsky and Ignat Falkov finished 44th in the T2 category in a Nissan Patrol.