The Russian crew of Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov completed the Baja Aragon second stage in the second position.
Early in the morning the field started from Teruel: the participants had to overcome about 370 km of special stages – 215.64 kilometers at SS-2 and 154.93 kilometers at SS-3. The challenging track had many turns and connections, complicated by a huge number of stones and constant ascents through the mountainous terrain.
The complicated track caused many unpleasant moments: the Polish driver Aron Domzala was the first at the first part of SS-2, but then he punctured two tyres, lost about ten minutes for their replacement and spent five more minutes in the ditch. Martin Prokop remembered his last year’s experience – he had to drive in the dust from the crews moving ahead, while Vladimir Vasilyev, performing in a new car, set the best time by the day special stage results.
While Jakub Przygonski, the world series leader, wasted valuable time to replace the tyres, he was caught by the Catalan Xevi Pons; but then he had problems with the engine, so Przygonski “swallowed” the dust at SS-2, trying to catch up time and come from behind.
T1 top three by the time of SS-2 passage:
1. No. 203 Vladimir Vasilyev / Konstantin Zhiltsov 2:48:01;
2. No. 202 Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek 2:49:54;
3. No. 207 Xevi Pons / Diego San Juan 2:51:48.
The second half of the day slightly changed the crews position in the virtual standings, simplifying or complicating the struggle: if Xevi Pons had no technical problems this time and retained the third position in the overall classification, then Cuba Przygonski tried to offset losses and won SS-3, but on the whole it helped him to rise only to the fourth position at the end of the day.
T1 top three by the time of SS-3 passage:
1. No. 201 Jakub Przygonski / Tom Colsoul 1:52:39;
2. No. 202 Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek 1:53:15;
3. No. 207 Xevi Pons / Diego San Juan 1:54:04.
The G-Energy Team crew managed to secure their position in the top three by the end of the day. Vladimir Vasilyev changed the style of driving at SS-3 that determined his result.
Vladimir Vasilyev, driver, “It’s a complicated Spanish race: all 370 kilometers of special stages are challenging mountain spiral roads, and you must be very well-trained to rush through them at full speed. Both special stages of today are not much different from each other. At SS-3 we drove more carefully to save the tyres – there were more stones on the track”.
Although fast Martin Prokop took advantage of Vasilyev’s careful driving and finished ahead of Vladimir for only one minute and one second, the Russians were able to save the vehicle for tomorrow’s part of the competition.
T1 preliminary results:
1) No. 202 Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek 4:52:26;
2) No. 203 Vladimir Vasilyev / Konstantin Zhiltsov 4:53:27;
3) No. 207 Xevi Pons / Diego San Juan 4:55:11.
If to draw a line, the Overdrive car driven by Vasilyev with sensitive navigation control of Zhiltsov after the passed part of the competition remained technically sound, although the sportsmen admit that the process of acquaintance and accustoming is still going on.
Konstantin Zhiltsov, co-driver, “Of course, we feel tired – though a short distance is passed, the track is winding and challenging. It’s good that we perform without any “adventures” – there are no punched tyres, nothing! We get used to the car. This phrase will seem a cover story to many people, and we do not really like it ourselves, but in this particular situation, the process of getting used really goes: we drove a long time in a diesel car, and now it’s a gasoline car – it’s a completely different vehicle, not everything is ok, but now it’s much better. But the race is really interesting: I remembered a piece of the route that was traditionally used here in Spain, and the piece that was used for Dakar, I also remember it!”
So the main part of the Baja Aragon route is passed. The organizers reserved only one special stage with a length of 127.45 km for the final competition day. It is SS4 that will determine the 35th edition of the Spanish Baja winner and how the positions of the drivers and co-drivers will change in the general classification.