On Friday the "Master-Rally-2002" race started on the Siny (Blue) bridge located between the Isakiyevsky cathedral and the Mariinsky palace in Saint Petersburg.
Motor-cyclists were the first to start. After a 30 minutes interval, a start given to favour motor cyclists against all-terrain cars, the motor car crews began the race. Rally participants went towards the first special race segment.
39 motor-cyclists from 10 European countries, 47 all-terrain car crews and 6 trucks participate in the race. Russia is represented by 8 crews: seven teams take part in the car race and one crew participates in the trucks class race on a "Russian roads heavyweight" Kamaz truck.
Several winners of previous rallies are among race participants. French racer Patrick Sireillejole on a KTM motor cycle won the "Master-Rally-1997". Another French sportsman Tierry Manyaldi who won motorcycle races in 1996 and 1997 this time is driving a "Mercedes" car. Manyaldi's partner is Francis Borsotto.
A women's crew is also taking part in the race, a Portuguese team consisting of pilot Elizabeth Jacinto who like Manyaldi, replaced a motorcycle with a car and navigator Sonie Katarino. Elizabeth's service record lists Women's Paris-Dakar rally victory, and her immediate plans are to try her luck in a sport trucks race.
The "Master-Rally" project was born in 1995. Presently the race obtained the status of one of the stages of the World all-terrain rally raids cups of the International Autosport Federation and of the International Motorcycle Federation. For the first time in the history of the competitions the "Master-Rally-2002" route will fully run across the Russian territory: from Saint Petersburg via Astrakhan (the Volga region) to Novorossiisk (a Black sea port).