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Support for the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas is likely to reach fever point when it heads to ORLEN Baja Poland (29 August-01 September), where two of the country’s most popular and successful rally drivers will take the start of the sixth round of the series. Held in the Szczecin, Drawsko Pomorskie and Dobra municipalities, the 11th Baja Poland will be longer than ever, mixing familiar and new roads on the long military range sections on Saturday with shorter sprint stages closer to the city of Szczecin on Sunday’s concluding day of competition.

Eyes will be on the fight for the title as top-scoring finishes now become ever-more crucial, but for the locals the loudest cheers are sure to be for the home grown talent of Jakub Przygoński and Krzysztof Hołowczyc, both competing in X-Raid-run Mini John Cooper Works Rally machinery. Przygoński, co-driven by Germany’s Timo Gottschalk, is currently fourth in the series standings and the reigning FIA World Cup champion would dearly love to repeat last year’s Baja Poland victory as he continues his battle for a second title.

Hołowczyc has a wealth of experience and success both at home and abroad. A three-time winner of the Polish Rally Championship, as well as his home Rally Poland, the former member of the European Parliament won Baja Poland five times between 2010 and 2015 and has finished the grueling Dakar Rally on six occasions, his last outing in 2015 reaping a podium position. He is back in action on his first World Cup Baja this year with Łukasz Kurzeja in the navigator’s seat.

But, competition will be as stiff as ever with just three of the eight rounds of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas remaining. Argentineans Orlando Terranova and Ronnie Graue are running on a high currently; the Mini crew hit the World Cup scene on the third round in Italy, won there and on the following two rounds in Spain and Hungary to launch themselves into a 10-point lead in the series. This will however be their maiden outing on Baja Poland. Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov are their nearest rivals in the Toyota Hilux Overdrive, the Russians on the podium three times so far this season. Lithuanian Benediktas Vanagas, co-driven by Poland’s Sebastian Rozwadowski, is seventh in the standings in his Hilux Overdrive and Miroslav Zapletal and Marek Sykora will be fighting hard to challenge the front-runners in their Ford F150 Evo, the Czech driver finishing on the Baja Poland podium three times previously.

Fedor Vorobyev and Kirill Shubin are fifth in the overall World Cup standings but, more importantly, the Russians head the T3 category. The Can-Am Maverick X3 crew, who have claimed two T3 wins this season, have a six-point advantage over their nearest rival, Santiago Navarro, who is navigated by Marc Solà in Poland. Third-placed Michele Cinotto is only a further two points adrift in his Polaris RZR 1000 Turbo. Two crews have entered in the T2 category, runaway leader Aldis Vilcans in a Toyota Landcruiser and Romanian Claudiu Barbu, who is equal second but 36 points adrift.

PROVISIONAL RALLY DATA

Total distance   

833.95 km

Selective section distance:

504.86 km

Number of selective sections:

7

ORLEN BAJA POLAND – TIMETABLE & MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES

Thursday 29 August

Scrutineering

From 14:00 hrs

Friday 30 August

Shakedown

09:00-14:00 hrs

Ceremonial start, Rally Park Szczecin

16:30 hrs

SSS1 (7.08 kilometres)

18:15 hrs

Leg 2 starting position selection

20:30 hrs

Saturday 31 August

SS2 (220.00 kilometres)

08:25 hrs

First car arrives remote service/regroup

11:50 hrs

SS3 (220.00 kilometres)

14:00 hrs

First car arrives for final remote service

17:25 hrs

Sunday 1 September

SS4 (18.39 kilometres)

08:30 hrs

SS5 (10.50 kilometres)

09:25 hrs

First car arrives service/regroup

10:10 hrs

SS6 (18:39 kilometres)

12:30 hrs

SS7 (10.50 kilometres)

13:25 hrs

Prize-Giving ceremony, Rally Park Szczecin

14:30 hrs

Photo: Przemysław Budziak


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