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Baja Russia: Al-Attiyah leads, Domzala gives ground

Written by  Feb 17, 2018

The Republic of Karelia is hosting the Baja “Russia – Northern Forest” – the second day of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies first round ended up with domination of Nasser Al-Attiyah on the track. Qatari driver feels confident on Karelian snow roads, although his advantage over the Czech crew is only four minutes.

Special stages laid near the Russian-Finnish border are extremely dynamic and speedy, almost every driver spoke about the track very enthusiastically. A good mood is supported by clear sunny weather, frost and absence of falling snow.

On Saturday, the drivers had to pass two special stages of 104 and 170 kilometers. The first section of the day was rather boring – almost everyone finished it without any accidents, trying to be careful and adjusting to high-speed driving on a slippery surface, except for a couple of crews. Denis Krotov in his BMW X3 had a crash of wheel end bearing, and Boris Gadasin had to return to the service with a bunch of problems.

Al-Attiyah was the fastest, and Tapio Lauronen secured the second position. These tracks are almost native for him – Lauronen lives only a few dozen kilometers from the area of the rally, though on the other side of the border, but often visits these places.

Martin Prokop from the Czech Republic rounded out the top three after 104-km special stage, but his advantage over Vladimir Vasilyev, located on the fourth position, was not great – just two minutes. There was also a close fight in the Production category – Alexey Titov in his Ford Raptor disengaged from the Qatari crew in the Toyota LC200 for only 27 seconds. And the leadership in the T3 category was strengthened by Claude Fornier.

After a short break the vehicles moved to a second, more extensive, special stage. Confidence after the first half of the day has already grown and the drivers have become more courageous. The number of mistakes immediately increased. Tapio Lauronen lost his second position due to the flat wheel; the Argentinian crew of Fernando Alvarez was too fast and “sat” on the parapet. However, guys managed to escape from the snow captivity quite quickly.

But the last year’s winner of the Baja “Russia – Northern Forest” – Polish driver Aron Domzala was unlucky. He rolled his car over twice. After the first accident Yasir Saiedan from Saudi Arabia came to his aid and returned the crew to the road, and the second time Martin Prokop was engaged in rescue activities. The time spent on it was compensated.

T3 category saw the leader’s change: was replaced – Frenchman Claude Fornier was overtaken by Dmitry Ponomarenko in the same vehicle – Polaris RZR 1000.

Tomorrow is the final day of the Baja “Russia – Northern Forest” and the crews will again find two special stages with a total distance of 228 kilometers.

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