Overdrive Racing will run three Toyota Hiluxes at the Baja Russia Northern Forest Rally, the opening round of the 2018 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, and each of the three drivers have very different objectives at the only snow and ice round of the series. The event takes place on February 16-18.
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah clinched his fourth FIA World Cup title in Morocco last October before going on to finish second in the recent Dakar Rally. The Moroccan success was the second successive series triumph for Overdrive Racing and Toyota and came after Al-Attiyah and French navigator Matthieu Baumel won seven of the 11 rounds of the championship.
After driving the very latest specification Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Team Hilux in South America last month, Al-Attiyah reverts to a 2017-specification Toyota for his challenge for honours in the snowy wastelands of Karelia in north-western Russia this weekend.
He will be aiming to win the FIA World Cup for a fifth time and give Overdrive Racing a hat-trick of series titles with a car entered under a new Tamim Al-Majid Team banner. The Qatari will also be hoping to win this event for the first time.
Poland’s Aron Domzala and navigator Szymon Gospodarczyk claimed their one and only FIA World Cup win at the Russian event last February with Overdrive Racing. Domzala endured mixed fortunes for the rest of his campaign, after leading the series outright heading to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in April.
He went on to finish third in the Drivers’ Championship behind Al-Attiyah and Polish rival Jakub Przygonski and will be aiming to move up at least one step on the podium in 2018. Maciej Marton navigated for Domzala for much of 2017 and he returns to action in Karelia.
The talented Saudi Arabian driver Yasir Saiedan crews the third Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux. He joins the team for the first time after being crowned the FIA T2 World Champion with his privately-run Toyota Land Cruiser in 2017.
Saiedan was the runaway winner of the prestigious category for series production cross-country vehicles last year, but the powerful V8-engined Hilux marks a major step up in performance for him and Russian navigator Alexei Kuzmich.
Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean-Marc Fortin said: “It’s always exciting to start a new FIA World Cup campaign and this event comes just three weeks or so after our successful Dakar Rally, where Toyotas filled two places on the podium and we also had two customer cars inside the top 10.
“We’ve made a strong start to the season and we need to keep that momentum going in Russia, where we will see a massive change in weather conditions from the 35-plus degrees we faced on many days in Dakar to temperatures that could be as low as -20°C on the stages in Karelia.”
The start of this year’s event will take place in the Ruskeala Mountain Park, located on the highway linking Russia with Finland. Pre-Baja formalities will be held in the small town of Sortavala and precede the 17km Prologue stage on Friday (February 16).
Crews will then face two days of competition (Saturday and Sunday, February 17-18) and four selective sections on snowy trails and forest tracks in the Suojarvi and Sortvala districts of the Republic of Karelia. The ceremonial finish will take place in the village of Vyartsilya on Sunday afternoon.
Dakar 2019: Victories for Nasser Al-Atti
Dakar 2019: Al-Attiyah in control, Price
Dakar 2019: Every little helps for Brabe
Dakar 2019: Loeb gets his own back as Al
Dakar 2019: Masterful display from Loeb
Toyota launch its 2019 Yaris WRC challen
Dakar 2019: Everything up in the air for
Dakar 2019: Al Attiyah bosses the marath
Dakar 2019: AL Attiyah beats Sainz in da
Toyota 1-2 and first WEC podium for Jens
Senna heads Rebellion 1-2 in last practi
Dakar 2019 Bikes race: KTM in hunting
Dakar 2019 Trucks race: Kamaz, the besie
534 competitors in 334 vehicles getting
Peru states the Dakar as "Event of Natio
South Racing’s Alvarez teams up with Laf
Kazakhstan announces modified fifth roun
Merzouga Rally 2018: Ready for the sprin
Al-Attiyah debutant wins the winter cros
Baja Russia: Al-Attiyah leads, Domzala g
Carlo Sainz wins Rally Dakar 2018
Price and Al-Attiyah fight until the end
Dakar 2018: Loeb out, Peterhansel soars
Dakar 2018: Al-Attiyah masters opening s
Peugeot looking to go out with a bang in
A record 50 Quads to compete in Dakar 20
Dakar 2018 route revealed
Giniel de Villiers leads the general sta
Zhang Ming clinches the victory
Ma Hailong wins the first edition
Local hero Aorigele celebrates his third
Aorigele has come the first stage winner
Aorigele continues to lead / Aorigele si
Porém extends Portuguese national cross-
Al-Attiyah secures his second win in Pol
The military ground for Nasser
Al-Attiyah fastest at the military range
Al-Attiyah in front after the first stag
Paraguay’s Zapag finishes third overall
Orlando Terranova wins the Desafío Ruta
Huge entry list for Baja Poland
Overdrive Racing sends powerful fleet of
Al-Attijah wins the Hungarian Baja for t
Hungarian Baja: Al-attiyah dominates day
Hungarian Baja: Al-Attiyah fastest in th
Hungarian Baja's heats up between Al-att
World-class drivers again at HunGarian B