Sep 12, 2020
Heavy rain makes for difficult conditions
Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) and his new co-driver Edouard Boulanger (FRA) took victory at the Baja Poland in their MINI ALL4 Racing. Krzysztof Holowczyc and Lukas Kurzeja (both POL) finished seventh in their home race in a MINI John Cooper Works Rally. Michal Maluszynski and Julita Maluszynski also achieved a great result in the MINI JCW Rally: the Polish couple, who competed under their own licence, secured third place. The Baja Poland marks the resumption of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas after a seven-month break due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And it was a successful return to action for X-raid: as well as victory, the team also won four of the seven stages. Holowczyc was fastest on three occasions, with Peterhansel coming out on top once.
The decisive moment came on stage three on Saturday afternoon. Heavy rainfall meant much of the route was under water. Many competitors struggled with the conditions and the resulting technical issues. Peterhansel coped best and set by far the fastest time, which also saw him take the overall lead. In contrast, the sheer amount of water caused alternator issues for Holowczyc, who had led up to that point. The Pole lost a lot of time and fell back to seventh place overall.
Sunday featured a further four stages. However, with two of them just 10 kilometres in length and two 17-kilometre routes, there was little time to make up lost ground. As the muddy surface meant that any mistake could prove very costly, Peterhansel took a more cautious approach. His strategy paid off – the Frenchman was unable to add another stage win, but did successfully secure overall victory. Holowczyc, on the other hand, was determined to show what he and his MINI JCW Rally were capable of and won two of the four stages and finished second twice.
Stéphane Peterhansel: ‘I am very happy about this victory, especially since it was also my first rally with Edouard. The conditions were very difficult on Saturday – lots of water and mud. I saw a few rivals who had come to a standstill with issues out on the route. We were very careful, but it was not easy.’
Krzysztof Holowczyc: ‘The morning stage went very well for us. Unfortunately, we then had issues with the electrics on the third stage. There was simply too much water on the route. Nobody had reckoned with it raining quite so much. Sunday was just about getting some good results on the individual stages.’
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