Overdrive Racing is fielding six Toyota Hiluxes in the gruelling Silk Way Rally, which starts in Moscow on Saturday, July 6th and finishes in Astrakhan on Saturday, July 13th. The line-up is the largest that the Belgian car preparation company has entered since the 2013 Dakar Rally.
Frenchman Jérôme Pelichet, Poles Adam Malysz and Marek Dabrowski, Kazakhs Aidyn Rakhimbayev and Bauyrzhan Issabayev and Russian Evgeniy Firsov drive the six Overdrive cars.
The six will be co-driven by their respective navigators Eugenie Decre (France), Rafal Marton and Jacek Cazchor (Poland), Gabdulla Ashimov and Stanilas Podolyanyuk (Kazakhstan) and Vadim Filatov (Russia).
Pelichet tackled the event last year with Overdrive and is relishing his challenge for honours with Decre in the Toyota. “I really enjoyed the route of the Silk Way Rally,” said the Frenchman, who sat alongside Decre at the Hellas Rally in Greece. “I was in second position on the day before the arrival last year, but then I got stuck on a tree stump and damaged the suspension. Hopefully, I can finish with more luck this time.”
Former Polish ski jumper Malysz is running under the G1 Racing banner. The Team Orlen driver finished fourth overall with the Overdrive team in this year’s Italian Baja having reached the finish of the Dakar Rally in Santiago-de-Chile in 15th overall back in January.
Motorcycle rider Dabrowski joins the team for the first time and is partnered by fellow Polish Dakar rider Jacek Czachor in a Team Orlen entry. Both riders have vast experience of the Dakar and events such as the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Tunisia, Masters and Pharoahs rallies and the switch to an Overdrive Toyota is a new chapter in their rallying careers.
Overdrive team manager Jean-Marc Fortin has confirmed that Dabrowski will race with the team in the 2014 Dakar Rally and that the Pole will also tackle events in Egypt and Morocco in preparation for the South American event next January.
Running under the Team Astana banner, Kazakh Rakhimbayev finished fourth overall in Qatar’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally this year and will be aiming for a podium finish alongside Ashimov in Astrakhan.
Issabayev and Podolyanyuk also run under the Team Astana banner, while Russians Firsov and Filatov complete the Overdrive line-up in their Pec Toyota.
“I am delighted that we have such a strong team in the Silk Way Rally,” said Overdrive team manager Jean-Marc Fortin. “Jérôme showed last year that he has the pace to challenge for the podium and I am sure that he and Adam will be using this as their goal. Adam won a regional rally a couple of weeks ago and that is sure to have boosted his confidence before this challenge.
“Aidyn also showed in Qatar that he has the pace to be competitive and I am confident that he will be well inside the top 10. Our other three drivers are with the team for the first time to gain experience.”
After the start in Moscow on Saturday, crews will take a 452.91km non-competitive road liaison section to the overnight halt at Tambov from where the first 199.05km selective section starts on Sunday en route to Volgograd.
A 333.30km loop stage around Volgograd follows on Monday, July 8th and teams then tackle a punishing 486.74km competitive section through the steppes to Astrakhan on Tuesday. From Astrakhan, the route heads to Elista for a 485km section on Wednesday and a return to Astrakhan via a 499km selective on Thursday.
The penultimate stage features a 412km loop around Astrakhan on Friday, July 12th with a mixture of dunes, sandy stages and steppes and a short 87.36km seventh section around Astrakhan brings teams to the finish at the city on the banks of the Volga River.
In a total route of 4,096.78km, 2,502.45km is made up of challenging competitive sections.
Press: Overdrive Racing/Neil Perkins