Bri­tish bat­tler steers his Union Flag-clad Mini to a top four fin­ish

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By An­thony Pea­cock

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.

Pho­tos: mck­lein-im­age­

Hunt said the event was one of the tough­est he’s done

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