- On 15 February Baja “Russia – Northern Forest 2019” will open the season of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas
- The baja will be held in the Republic of Karelia for the fifth time
- On the first day there will be a Ceremonial opening and a 19-km Prologue
The 1st round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas starts in Sortavala, Republic of Karelia, on 15 February. Participants of the Russian Rally-Raid Championship who will also open the 2019 sports season, will join the World Cup racers.
The world’s only snow and ice baja will be held for the fifteenth time, and for the fifth time it will pass along the roads of the Republic of Karelia. The total mileage of the race is more than 550 km. Participants will overcome this distance in three days.
The World Cup participants will compete for victory on Karelian routes in 4 categories: T1 (specially prepared off-road sports vehicles, prototypes of the original design, and buggies), T2 (production off-road vehicles), T3 (two-seater quads). In the national championship, in addition to these categories, there will be off-road vehicles prepared in accordance with national requirements – group R.
Speaking about the crews in the entry list, there are the 2014 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies holders, the winners of the Africa Eco Race 2017 rally marathon, multiple Russian Rally Raid champions Vladimir Vasilyev / Konstantin Zhiltsov (Russia); the FIA World Cup holders and the Champions of Russia Andrey Rudskoy / Evgeniy Zagorodniuk; the best debutants in the Dakar 2019 Car standings Denis Krotov / Dmitry Tsyro (Russia); Russian Rally Champions Sergey Uspensky / Marina Danilova; Maria Oparina, the Silk Way rally marathon winner in T3 standings; Anastasia Nifontova – the only girl, who finished at the Dakar rally marathon in the standings, where any help of mechanics is prohibited.
On Thursday, 14 February, some crews of the Russian Rally Raid Championship passed administrative checks, and their vehicles – a technical inspection. Required checks for the FIA World Cup participants will take place in the morning of 15 February.
On Friday, 15 February, in the afternoon, the competitive program of the “Russia – Northern Forest” Baja will begin. The start of the 1st special stage will take place at 14:00 from the airfield near the village of Helyulya. All crews will proceed to Ryuttyu, where the start of the first special stage (Prologue) is located. The distance is tiny by the standards of this discipline – only 19 km – but is very important. According to the results of the Prologue, the first ten fastest crews will be able to choose a starting position for the 2nd stage. After the press conference, briefing and selection of starting positions the Ceremonial opening will be held in “Ruskeala” mountain park. On 16 and 17 February the crews will continue to fight for the title of the fastest on the Karelian routes.
DMITRY TSYRO, co-driver, crew No. 206, T1 standings
It’s not my first time at a snow race, probably the fifth or sixth one. Now in Karelia, we are performing with Denis Krotov in a BMW X3. We drove Dakar 2019 in the same crew, however, on another car. For Denis Krotov this Dakar was the first in his career. And we finished in the 15th place in the overall standings.
ANTON VLASYUK, co-driver, crew No. 225, T3 standings
We perform for the first time in a winter race in a T3 vehicle. We prepared for this round as carefully as for Dakar: we had many training sessions on ice and along forest roads. We’ve got some experience now, and we are ready! I tell everyone who supports us – don’t worry. The temperature is around zero now in Karelia, and we have “secret equipment” in our car in order not to freeze (laughing). The buggy has a heater and is glazed, so I think we won’t get cold.
EVGENY SUKHOVENKO, driver, crew No. 612, R standings
This year, I’ve already had several tests. So I got used to the winter surface. Moreover, last week we raced in rally “Peno”. And Karelia is like home for me in general. The main thing at this race is that the heater warms up sufficiently and the windshield and other windows don’t sweat. This is not the car we drove at Africa. We performed in it last year, and it’s ready to start.
MARIA OPARINA, driver, crew No. 219, T3 standings
This year the use of turbines in our class is allowed. Now, the car goes faster and behaves more interesting. I had tests near St. Petersburg; I hope to have a very good result. It is incredibly interesting to compete with men, especially since we are the only purely female crew at the baja with my co-driver Lyudmila Petenko. I’m very pleased at the appearance of other girls in my T3 class! This year Tatyana Sycheva from St. Petersburg is also here. I hope she will like it, and there will be even more girls.
Baja “Russia – Northern Forest 2019” schedule for 15.02.19.
13:00 The list of approved crews and the starting list for SSS publication
14:00 The 1st stage (Prologue) start. Distance is 19 km
17:00 Press Conference
18:00 Starting positions choice
18:30 Starting list publication
19:00 Ceremonial opening of the Baja “Russia – Northern Forest 2019”
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The traditional partners of Baja “Russia – Northern Forest 2019” are the companies “Nart”, Nart Time, “R-Industria”, “Rus”, “Igora Drive”, “Orekh”, “Bar Motor”.
This year the Technical Center “Vostok” with the brands “KAMAZ” and “Gas Diesel Systems” joined us. The connection is provided by Neokom and Megafon. Accommodation of guests and officials of the race is provided by “Astra” business travel agency, “Gardarika” country club and hotels “Chernye Kamni” and “Tochka na karte. Sortavala”. The Ceremonial opening of the race will be held with the Ruskeala mountain park support. The airport of Petrozavodsk acts as a technical partner, providing the “Sortavala” landing area (Helyulya settlement) for the organization of the Service Park.
The 5th year title sponsors are the Government of the Republic of Karelia, the Olympic Council of the Republic of Karelia, and the 100 Years of Karelia project. Informational support is provided by Ex-Road Media and 4x4 All-Wheel Drive magazine.