HUNT: SILK WAY RALLY TOUGHER THAN DAKAR
British battler steers his Union Flag-clad Mini to a top four finish
Britain’s Harry Hunt – who finished fourth on the Silk Way Rally in a Mini – has described the 10,000-kilometre marathon through Russia, Kazakhstan and China as “even tougher than Dakar.”
The 27-year-old former IRC and WRC Production two-wheel-drive champion had his first taste of the Dakar earlier this year and finished 10th on his debut.
The Silk Way Rally, also contested by Peugeot stars Sebastien Loeb and Stephane Peterhansel, was Hunt’s first time back in the car since the South American classic six months ago.
“I’m absolutely delighted; I really couldn’t have asked for more,” said Hunt. “Before the start, I’d fixed a goal of a top five finish, although I knew it wouldn’t be easy. So to finish fourth, in front of two of the Peugeots, is an amazing result. I definitely found it tougher than Dakar, mentally and physically, so to have done this event is a real bonus.”
Hunt suffered a setback in the very early stages of the two-week event, when he strayed off course and was caught out by the terrain, costing him and experienced co-driver Andy Schulz more than 40 minutes. After that incident he made steady progress, with only punctures and his power steering failing for 155 competitive miles costing him further time before reaching the finish in Beijing.
“It’s definitely been the best performance we’ve done, because of the way we were able to come back, and the fact that we could set top three stage times,” added Hunt. “This was only the second marathon event I’ve ever done, so I’ve learned a lot more about how to approach these rallies as a whole, which will be really useful for Dakar. Massive thanks to Andy as always, who played a huge part in that, and to Mini; I think we showed that the car is still competitive.”
Hunt’s confirmed programme before next January’s Dakar will consist of the Rallye du Maroc in November – traditionally used by most of the frontrunners as a warm-up for Dakar – with the possibility of an extra event as well.
Hunt said the event was one of the toughest he’s done