The Republic of Karelia is hosting the Baja “Russia – Northern Forest” – the second day of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies first round ended up with domination of Nasser Al-Attiyah on the track. Qatari driver feels confident on Karelian snow roads, although his advantage over the Czech crew is only four minutes.

Special stages laid near the Russian-Finnish border are extremely dynamic and speedy, almost every driver spoke about the track very enthusiastically. A good mood is supported by clear sunny weather, frost and absence of falling snow.

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On Saturday, the drivers had to pass two special stages of 104 and 170 kilometers. The first section of the day was rather boring – almost everyone finished it without any accidents, trying to be careful and adjusting to high-speed driving on a slippery surface, except for a couple of crews. Denis Krotov in his BMW X3 had a crash of wheel end bearing, and Boris Gadasin had to return to the service with a bunch of problems.

Boris GADASIN, driver, crew number 8, “What happened? Say “hello” to winter! In our car the breathers have been frozen in several systems – in the power steering and in the gearbox. The car was started after the frosty night, as a result the oil cooler was torn off and the hose jumped off from the power steering. That is, everything started to leak; we connected it somehow, were late at the start because of this, but were able to drive. And six kilometers later the small fire started, because the oil from the steering got to the muffler. Than it was discovered the new “magic” system that the FIA ​​requires doesn’t work in principle. That is, you press the button, nothing works, but the “test” shows everything is ok. A “native” Russian fire extinguisher and three men, throwing snow on the car, helped it not to burn. And this alone is a plus, and everything else... The car will be ready for tomorrow, and the issue of admission is not to us”.

Al-Attiyah was the fastest, and Tapio Lauronen secured the second position. These tracks are almost native for him – Lauronen lives only a few dozen kilometers from the area of the rally, though on the other side of the border, but often visits these places.

Martin Prokop from the Czech Republic rounded out the top three after 104-km special stage, but his advantage over Vladimir Vasilyev, located on the fourth position, was not great – just two minutes. There was also a close fight in the Production category – Alexey Titov in his Ford Raptor disengaged from the Qatari crew in the Toyota LC200 for only 27 seconds. And the leadership in the T3 category was strengthened by Claude Fornier.


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After a short break the vehicles moved to a second, more extensive, special stage. Confidence after the first half of the day has already grown and the drivers have become more courageous. The number of mistakes immediately increased. Tapio Lauronen lost his second position due to the flat wheel; the Argentinian crew of Fernando Alvarez was too fast and “sat” on the parapet. However, guys managed to escape from the snow captivity quite quickly.

But the last year’s winner of the Baja “Russia – Northern Forest” – Polish driver Aron Domzala was unlucky. He rolled his car over twice. After the first accident Yasir Saiedan from Saudi Arabia came to his aid and returned the crew to the road, and the second time Martin Prokop was engaged in rescue activities. The time spent on it was compensated.

T3 category saw the leader’s change: was replaced – Frenchman Claude Fornier was overtaken by Dmitry Ponomarenko in the same vehicle – Polaris RZR 1000.

Partial unofficial classification after the second leg (full version) >>>

Tomorrow is the final day of the Baja “Russia – Northern Forest” and the crews will again find two special stages with a total distance of 228 kilometers.

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Entrant Driver/Co-Driver Car Total Diff Grp
1 1 1 Qatar World Rally Team (QAT) Nasser Saleh AL-ATTIYA (QAT)
Matthieu BAUMEL (FRA)
Toyota Hilux Overdrive 2:55:22   Т1
2 2 4 MP-Sports (CZE) Martin PROKOP (CZE)
Ford F150 Evo 2:59:42 0:04:20
Mitsubishi Pajero 3:01:42 0:06:20
Konstantin ZHILTSOV (RUS)
MINI ONE 3:02:26 0:07:04
5 2 2 Orlen Team/ X-raid (POL) Jakub PRZYGONSKI (POL)
MINI John Cooper Works Rally 3:11:49 0:16:27


Aron DOMZALA, driver, crew number 3, “Yes, we rolled over twice for today! You can say – it was a pretty bad day. The first time I was a bit quicker in the turn than it was necessary. There was a snowbank and we overturned, unfortunately, we blocked the road. Thanks to Yasir for helping us and Martin for the second time. Yes, it was a long day; I hope it has already come to an end”.

Jakub PRZYGONSKI, number 2, “It’s our first time here in Russia, and the first time in our life on the snow surface, and this is not easy. I had a chance to practice on the snow. I really like the special stages! They are well prepared, but it’s slippery and hard for me to drive. And it’s very simple to make a mistake here, because the car is always slipping at high speed and the snow on the sides looks very “hospitable”. It’s very easy to make a mistake, but it’s rally. For the second pass, I think, the road condition will change and it’s possible that in some places it will get better (not so slippery) – we'll see. Anything can happen in the course of the race”.

Martin PROKOP, number 4, “The track condition is really good, similar to the SS Prologue, and the grip is also fine. So you could really “fly” at the stage. I like being here, like driving in the race. If to compare the classic rally and the cross-country rally – there are no notes, I don’t know exactly where I’m going. In a classic rally you can accelerate, knowing what you expect to see ahead on the road. And now I must be always ready for surprises, but I feel confident, because I understand what to expect from the snow surface. I understand how snow can change the “character” on narrow and wide paths, something that often frightens less experienced drivers. Perhaps it will be even easier for me to adapt to the dunes in Abu Dhabi, it will be something new for me, but this coverage is also familiar to me. It’s really cool here! Remembering the classic rally, the co-driver can make notes at repetitive stages, but to be honest we are lazy to do it. I’m trying to remember. After all, the speeds are really high, the co-driver is focused on the road, and it’s not convenient for him to take notes. It seems to me I remember a lot of turns and this will help me at the second pass”.


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