The X-Raid Mini JCW Rally Team crew of Orlando Terranova and Ronnie Graue claimed their third consecutive win in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas, taking victory on the HunGarian Baja to lead the series after five events. Martin Prokop and Jan Tománek finished just 37 seconds adrift in second position after nearly 600 kilometres of hard-fought competition with Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov equalling their third position from last year.
The HunGarian Baja kicked off on Friday afternoon with a short but tricky 7.18 kilometre super special stage, which was won by Prokop. Saturday was the lengthiest day of the event with two runs over a long, hot and bumpy 208 kilometre selective section. Sunday was no less challenging, despite the stage – run twice – being a relatively short 82 competitive kilometres.
Terranova and Graue, fresh from victories on the last two events in Italy and Spain, have their sights set on a challenge for the title and the Argentineans once again put in a smart and measured performance in the John Cooper Works Rally car. A stage win in the first of Saturday’s stages catapulted them into the lead and despite an ongoing challenge from Prokop, the crew took the overnight lead by 46 seconds. The battle continued Sunday with the rivals neck and neck through the opener, another stage win by Terranova leaving them just 48 seconds apart going into the final section. Second fastest was sufficient for the Mini crew to claim the victory, however, and a 10-point lead in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas.
“I am really happy. It was a very nice, and very fast race,” said Terranova. “The battle with Martin Prokop was good fun. We came through the stages without any issues which allowed us to take the victory. The team did a great job as the Baja was very tough on the cars.”
After winning the super special stage, Prokop was on a charge and focussed on claiming victory, he and Terranova trading stage wins. The Czech Ford Raptor driver won the second run of Saturday’s long stage, leaving him second overall in the overnight standings despite constantly adjusting his driving to the ever-changing conditions. He was prepared to risk it all and was just two seconds adrift of Terranova’s winning time in the penultimate section but finished the event on a high with another fastest time in the final stage.
‘We took a lot of risk, we had some scary moments, but Orly (Terranova) pushed hard,” said Prokop. “I hoped to catch him on the first stage on Sunday, but we could not do it. Yet we tried to win the race on the last stage and put all our eggs in one basket.”
Vasilyev, the former championship leader and now second in the standings, finished third in the Toyota Hilux, the Russian confessing it had been difficult to open the road on Friday and Saturday. Tyre wear was also high and he picked up a puncture in Saturday’s opener but third fastest time through SS3 ensured he held third overnight. In the final leg he dropped time with another puncture but his advantage over his nearest rival was sufficient to secure the position.
Jakub Przygoński and Timo Gottschalk managed to climb one position up the leaderboard on the final day to take fourth overall. The Polish Mini driver was hot on the pace in the opening super special stage, finishing second, but was struck with brake problems on Saturday that saw him drop time, pick up penalties and overnight in fifth. He resumed his charge on Sunday with two top three fastest times and overhauled Hungary’s Pál Lónyai and Albert Horn in their LPR Porsche Macan. The top national crew put in a fine performance against some of the World Cup regulars and finished just 59 seconds adrift of Przygoński.
Miroslav Zapletal, co-driven by Marek Sykora, was sixth in his F150 Evo with Fedor Vorobyev and Kirill Shubin a fine seventh overall and winners in the T3 category in their Can-Am Maverick X3. The Russians claimed category wins in two of the five stages, remarkably on equal time in SS4 with second placed Santiago Navarro/Daniel Oliveras, the Spaniards eighth in the overall standings in similar machinery. The Hungarian crew of Imre Varga/József Toma finished ninth in a BMW with Aleksandr Dorosinskiy/Oleg Uperenko rounding out the top 10 and third in the T3 category. Romanians Claudiu Barbu/Paul Spiridon won in T2, ahead of Aldis Vilcans/Daira Vilane.
The sixth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas takes the contenders to Baja Poland (29 August-01 September).
HunGarian Baja – Final Classification
Orlando Terranova/Ronnie Graue
Mini John Cooper Works Rally
6hr 44min 54sec
Martin Prokop/Jan Tománek
Ford Raptor RS Cross Country
6hr 45min 31sec
Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov
7hr 01min 23sec
Jakub Przygoński/Timo Gottschalk
Mini John Cooper Works Rally
7hr 28min 31sec
Pál Lónyai/Albert Horn
LPR Porsche Macan
7hr 29min 30sec
Miroslav Zapletal/Marek Sykora
7hr 50min 52sec
Fedor Vorobyev/Kirill Shubin
Can-Am Maverick X3
7hr 57min 19sec
Santiago Navarro/Daniel Oliveras
Can-Am Maverick X3
8hr 16min 16sec
Imre Varga/ József Toma
BMW X6 CC
8hr 28min 10sec
Aleksandr Dorosinskiy/Oleg Uperenko
Can-Am Maverick XRS
8hr 57min 22sec