Team France captures overall victory of the Transsyberia Rally 2008 powered by Sony Ericsson
Final 14th stage
Liaison 1: 75 km
1. Special stage: 85 km
Liaison 2: 178 km
2. Special stage: 14 km
The morning program of the last leg contained a fast special stage of 85 km length. The route led from the Mongol Els sand dunes, through the green steppe past yurts and droves, into the nature-sanctuary Khustayn Uul.
Team Germany 1 won today’s special stage in 54:53 minutes, ahead of Team Russia 1 (+ 0:06:00). For Schwarz/Schulz this was the sixth daily victory during the Transsyberia Rally 2008 powered by Sony Ericsson. The experienced pilots had resolved a lot for the final leg. With 170 km/h (106 mph) they swept past the nine cars which had started ahead of them and exhibited their skills. They didn’t catch up with the Spaniards though. “Fortunately the stretch was only 85 km long, or Armin Schwarz would probably have caught up to us“, said Pau Soler at the finish. With a lag time of 7:15 minutes Team Spain came in third in the evaluation. The French Christian Lavieille and Francois Borsotto ended the special stage in sixth place (+ 0:10:47) and confidently defended the lead in the overall standings.
During the course of the day a liaison of 75 km followed, before the last segment of the rally finally began. Eleven kilometers through winding, hilly off-road terrain and a spectacular crossing of the Tuul Gol River. Team France drove across the finish-line ahead of Team Spain. The Danner Racing Team followed, not by land, but afloat in the river, from which Christof Danner could free his Mercedes G 320 only narrowly.
Team France with Christian Lavieille and Francois Borsotto, who were able to defend their lead in the overall standings for five stages till the finish, celebrated their Transsyberia premiere. “We’re super happy that we won and want to thank Porsche France for making our participation possible. The Transsyberia ist something special. Many different stages for driver and navigator. The Transsyberia is wonderful“, beamed pilot Christian Lavieille, who maneuvered his Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia securely, fast and with little wear through valleys and over mountains, through swamps and across steppe.
Team Spain captured second place in the overall standings with a lag of about two hours to Team France. Navigator Laia Paneido was beside herself with happiness: “I can’t believe it yet and I didn’t dare hope for it either.“ Driver Pau Soler was also visibly pleased with the outcome: “I am totally happy. Before the rally we resolved to be at least as good as last year, where we were fifth. That was difficult, because the Transsyberia had ten very good teams this time, which were all capable of driving in the front. The standard was much higher than in 2007. That we’re now second, ahead of Armin Schwarz, is excellent.“ The Transsyberia Rally 2008 powered by Sony Ericsson had however started with some adversities for the Spaniards. “When we were towed to the destination on the first day, we naturally thought it was a disaster. But we stayed calm and we knew our stages are yet to come. In Russia the trials are short, there’s less to navigate, but more to drive. I’m not a professional rally driver, so the stages in Mongolia were more our thing.“, said Soler.
Team Germany 1 (+ 2:21:14 hours) landed in third place and is on the podium of the rally for the first time. “The key to our success was that we drove fast continiously. Damage can occur quickly, as we experienced yesterday. That’s why it’s important to always keep at it and never give up“, analyzed pilot Armin Schwarz. His navigator Andreas Schulz added: “All in all we liked the rally. Ultimately it wasn’t difficult to navigate, provided one was concentrating.“
Team Portugal with Pedro Gameiro and co-driver Pedro Figueiredo, who had been leading for a long time while in Russia, reached the 4th place in the overall standings with a lag time of almost three hours. Pilot Gameiro gave a positive review: “The long stages in Mongolia got to us. We took part in the Transsyberia for the first time and didn’t have any experience. In addition, Pedro and I drove as a team for the first time. It worked out really well! With the Spaniards and us, Porsche Iberica has two teams in the Top 4. We’re proud of it.“
After 15 days, 14 stages, 12 special stages and 7200 kilometers, 21 of the 34 teams, who originally set out, reached the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar. There the winners will be elected this evening and plans for 2009 might be made, when the Transsyberia Rally will once again run through Russia and Mongolia.