2017 Italian Baja: Kuba Przygonski’s first for MINI ALL4 Racing
After his switch from two to four wheels for the 2016 Dakar Rally, the young Pole now celebrated his first win in the Car cetegoryTogether with his Belgian navigator, Tom Colsoul, he won the sixth round on the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup calendar, the Italian Baja. With this success he worked his way up to second position in the World Cup standings. Meanwhile, Mohamed Abu Issa (QAT) and Xavier Panseri (FRA) in a second MINI ALL4 Racing finished third, in the Baja.
Przygonski held the lead from the Super Special Stage on Friday evening. Altogether, he won four of the six stages. “My first win,” beamed the Pole. “We pushed right from the start but the Baja wasn’t easy. Very technical and partially tricky when it came to the navigation. The MINI ran flawlessly. At the beginning, the route took us across muddy sections and in was very slippery. Today, however, it was dry and bumpy.”
In the meantime, Abu Issa had some bad luck on Saturday morning when he laid his MINI on the side after getting stuck o the outside of a corner. Issa and Panseri succeeded in getting the vehicle back on its wheels but they lost too much time to have a chance of making it to the very top.
The next FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup round is the Baja Aragon in Spain. And before the Baja Aragon, the calendar features another season highlight: The Silk Way Rally, from Moscow, Russia, to Xian, China. In the coming days we will announce the drivers who will contest this event.
Overall standings Italian Baja 2017:
1. J. Przygonski (POL) / T. Colsoul (BEL) MINI ALL4 Racing – 5h 41m 21s
2. M. Zapletal (CZE) / M. Sykora (SLO) Hummer – 5h 57m 33s
3. M. Abu Issa (QAT) / X. Panseri (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 6h 12m 44s
CAREER-BEST FOURTH PLACE FOR FERNANDO ALVAREZ WITH SOUTH RACING AT THE ITALIAN BAJA
PORDENONE (ITALY): Spain’s Fernando Alvarez and Germany’s Jürgen Schröder endured mixed fortunes with South Racing at a gruelling Italian Baja, round six of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, in northern Italy. Alvarez and Argentinean navigator Juan-Pablo Monasterolo climbed through the field in their Conarpesa-backed Toyota Hilux and eventually finished a superb fourth overall – a career-best performance for the Spaniard.
Schröder and his son Maximilian incurred time penalties early in the race and faced a climb back through the field from then on in the second South Racing car. The German duo were 14th heading into the final stage but missed out on the finish in Pordenone after a late accident damaged their Toyota’s front suspension.
“I am really happy with this result,” said Alvarez. “It was a tough, difficult rally but we stayed away from problems and that is always important. Punctures were an issue and it was not easy in the dust behind other cars, but this is a great result for us.”
“This was a very good race for Fernando and emphasised his continual improvement,” said South Racing’s managing director Scott Abraham. “Unfortunately, he had three punctures on the final stage and finished the special on a wheel.
“Jürgen damaged a prop shaft in a river bed on a stone on Saturday and then broke the engine mountings and damaged the wiring harness at the same time. I guess it was a chain reaction. They restarted this morning, had a very good first stage and had to contend with dust, starting further behind. The last stage started well and then, unfortunately, they had a small accident towards the end and damaged the front suspension.”
The South Racing duo began brightly and Schröder and Alvarez were classified in ninth and 11th positions through the opening 19.8km of the Memorial Azzaretti special stage on Friday evening. But Alvarez moved up to ninth position when Schröder incurred 17 minutes of time penalties and slipped to 23rd.
The duo were classified in eighth and ninth through the first of three runs through a 91.8km ‘Cantina’ selective section from San Lorenzo to Valvasone and Alvarez held eighth overall. Alvarez carded the seventh quickest time on his second run – the Spaniard beating his first run by 3min 31sec – but Schröder suffered prop shaft and engine mounting issues, dropped another 40 minutes to the leaders and slipped to 17th place.
Another top 10 time on Cantina 3 enabled Alvarez to reach the night halt in sixth position and Schröder began the final day from 16th.
The final day’s action took place over two passes through the 86.4km Valvadrom stage between Valvasone and Rauscedo. The duo clocked the fourth and seventh quickest times through the first one and climbed to fourth and 14th in the overall rankings, but Schröder missed out on the finish after his late accident, as Alvarez confirmed an excellent fourth overall and looks ahead to Baja Spain next month.
OVERDRIVE RACING’S MUNK FINISHES FIFTH AFTER DRAMATIC FINAL DAY AT ITALIAN BAJA
Overdrive Racing was on course for second and third overall at the Italian Baja, round six of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, with two short stages to run on Sunday. But a series of flat tyres cost Martin Kaczmarski his chance of snatching third place and engine issues prevented Aron Domzala from finishing second and Ronan Chabot from snatching a potential third place on the final stage. The bright stop on a disappointing day in Italy for Overdrive Racing was a fine fifth position for Denmark’s Jes Munk and French co-driver Sébastien Delaunay after earlier electrical issues in the fourth Toyota Hilux.
The French duo of Chabot and Gilles Pillot missed out on the final podium with last stage engine problems on an event that was won by Poland’s Jakub Przygonski from Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal. Overdrive Racing’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah missed the Baja because of a date clash with the Cyprus Rally, but still leads the FIA World Cup standings after six rounds. Kaczmarski teamed up with Finland’s Tapio Suominen and looked set for a third-placed finish until he suffered a series of four flat tyres on the penultimate stage and retired. Fellow Pole Domzala and navigator Maciej Marton held second for much of the rally in an all-Polish lock-out of the podium places, but Domzala sustained engine problems on the penultimate stage and also missed out on a potential podium finish.
Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean-Marc Fortin said: “Mixed thoughts from the rally this time. We were on course for second and third places for Aron and Martin and even Ronan until the last stages and that is very disappointing. We had two cars in the top three for much of the rally but I am pleased for Jes that he achieved such a good result in difficult conditions with the heat and the dust.”
Przygonski clocked the fastest time through the 19.8km of the opening muddy and dusty super special stage at Valvasone and opened up a lead of 31 seconds over Domzala. The Pole’s Overdrive Racing colleagues, Kaczmarski and Chabot, slotted into sixth and 14th but Munk suffered electrical problems and was classified in 19th place heading into the weekend. Kaczmarski missed out on a potential stage win after sustaining a rear right puncture that forced him to finish the stage on a wheel rim and flailing rubber.
The meat of the northern Italian action began on Saturday morning with the first of three runs through a 91.8km ‘Cantina’ selective section near San Lorenzo and Valvasone. Kaczmarski hit back with the quickest time of 1hr 10min 28sec through the first run and moved 33.1 seconds behind his fellow Pole. Domzala and Chabot were fifth and seventh and held fourth and seventh overall. Munk recovered from his super special delays to set the 12th fastest time in hot, humid conditions across a wide variety of terrain, water splashes and river crossings.
Domzala pressed home his advantage in the second run through Cantina and climbed above Kaczmarski and into second overall, 1min 45.4sec behind Przygonski. Kaczmarski, Chabot and Munk were fourth, sixth and ninth quickest. The Frenchman held fifth place and Munk moved up to ninth.
Przygonski was again quickest on the third run to take a lead of 2min 35.4sec over Domzala into the overnight halt in Pordenone. Kaczmarski was third, Chabot fifth and Munk was up to 10th.
The final day’s action took place over two passes through a Valvadrom special stage of 86.4km between Valvasone and Rauscedo. Przygonski clocked the fastest time of 1hr 02min 36sec through the opener to extend his lead over Zapletal to 9min 04sec after Domzala hit engine trouble, incurred a stage maximum penalty and slipped out of contention.
Kaczmarski lost nearly half an hour and slipped to seventh overall after sustaining several punctures and then lost time in the dust. Chabot and Munk were third and eighth, with punctures an issue for Munk as well.
Przygonski held on to take the win from Zapletal, but there was late disappointment for Chabot, who missed out on the final podium place to Mohammed Abu Issa after engine issues. Kaczmarski’s tyre woes meant that he missed the final stage and Munk duly climbed to fifth at the finish of a dramatic final day in Italy. Chabot and Kaczmarski were eventually classified in ninth and 11th overall with time penalties added by rally officials.
The next round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rally is Baja Spain on July 21-23.