Master Rallye 2002 RUSSIA OF THE TSARS
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THE RACE

11.08.2002 Press Release
Anapa/Novorossiysk

Schlesser and Lundmark,
exactly under the sun

The 8th Master Rallye came to its conclusion today in magnificent sunshine in Novorossiyisk, on the shores of the Black Sea, at the end of a spectacular ultimate leg but without any remarkable change in the overall ranking. This last special which took place on the beaches of Anapa, confirmed the final victories of Jean-Louis Schlesser (buggy Schlesser-Renault) and Per-Gunnar Lundmark (KTM). Having been in the lead for several days, they therefore very logically imposed themselves at the close of the ten very rhythmic days’ racing, marked by an astonishing diversity of layouts where all types of vehicles had the opportunity of expressing themselves.

In the car category, Schlesser and his co-driver, Henri Magne, made it a point of honour to let their buggy triumph one last time, very at ease on the sand. Covering the 53 km of special in 39’50’’, they outdistanced Nicolas Misslin (Mitsubishi) by 27’’, victim of a puncture of his front-left tyre at the end of the layout, and the T1 Mercedes of Thierry Magnaldi by 2’06’’. The adventure came to a halt a few kilometres from the podium for Christophe Tinseau and Baptiste Vallet. The Protruck 207 team, victim of a mechanical breakdown, was unable to reach the end of the special course within the allotted time and was therefore disqualified. It was not a good day for the ASM team, as Pierre Lefevre and Arnaud Neveu suffered the same fate.

The impressive Kamaz of the Russian team, Mardeev-Belyaev-Chagin, literally swallowing up the dunes, signed the 10th time in the scratch and of course won the trucks rating, also taking the 10th place in the overall cars ranking. The French team, Jacquot-Jacquot-Simonin (MAN) imposed itself in category T4, after notably succeeding in two scratches during the event.

In category T1, Yves Loubet (Nissan) did not of course take any unnecessary risks in the sand, being content with the 16th time, but therefore ensured his final victory, in front of four Mercedes, beginning with that of Strugo. With Loubet, 4th, the T1s finish at the foot of the podium where the Russian, Alexander Khrol (Mitsubishi) and the Spaniard, Jose Luis Monterde (Mitsubishi), took place behind Schlesser, unsurprising winner of this Master Rallye.

«This success is very welcome, noted the driver-designer of the blue buggy, it rewards the tremendous work of our team. We were given a magnificent course, from the driving as well as the navigating point of view. I do not know whether my victory was easy, people are telling me about the fairly low level, but it is always difficult to get to the end without a hitch. We had a few scares, in the dunes or the mud, but no big problems.» Schlesser is now getting ready to go off to run in the coming round of the World Cup in mid September in Argentina, where his buggy will make one of its last appearances in its current form. Next year, place for a new 2-wheel drive, with a new engine and ambitions as high as ever.

Although the last special was very spectacular, between the rows of dunes and the Black Sea, it also generated some confusion, particularly amongst the motorbikers, certain of whom spent long minutes looking for a good layout, «gardening» in the sand and criss-crossing around the PCs. Mostly the fault of some ribbons which should have marked out the course, but which were ripped off during the night. Thus, a number of competitors hesitated, stopped or got worked up so close to deliverance, beginning with PG Lundmark.

But although tribute is due to the Pole, Jacek Czachor (KTM), the shrewdest and therefore the most rapid of the day in front of Flick (KTM) and Oosting (KTM), this will remain an anecdotic episode of this Master Rallye. Indeed, the big Swede, predictably enough, succeeded in keeping sufficient advance to carry off the deserved victory which had been awaiting him for almost a week. «I was a little nervous at the departure, and this incident of ribbons that disappeared did nothing to calm me down! It was confused, rather mad, but all ended well. It is obviously my most major victory, but at emotional level, I have to admit that I felt my first successes in Enduro in the mid nineties, in Sweden, in front of all the great specialists of my country, even more intensely.»

Fifth in the special at 7’18’’ from Czachor, Lundmark outdistances François Flick and the Pole, Marek Dabrowski (KTM) in the final overall ranking. Will PG Lundmark take the opportunity of this success in a major event to become in turn member of the official KTM team? He has not needed to make his reputation as a rapid driver for a long time. Now he has proved his capacity of imposing himself within an elevated context, a new career has maybe just begun for the Swede aged 40, who began motorbike competition only just ten years ago. The best is perhaps yet to come...

Victim of a spectacular fall, Nuno Santos (KTM), finished this ultimate special, in spite of a broken collarbone. The Portuguese driver kept his 6th place in the overall.

28 motorbikes, 31 cars and 3 trucks crossed the finishing line of this Master Rallye having completed the crossing of Russia of 5153 km.
 


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