Today, 7 March, the second round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas – Dubai International Baja – has started in the emirate, located along the Persian Gulf coast. The short two-day competition continues the series that started this winter in Karelia. At the moment Vladimir Vasilyev is the real FIA World Cup leader. Although he took the second place in the world only snow and ice baja in Russia (that was the first series round), the winner of that race, Tapio Lauronen, shared his plans: the Finn does not seek to continue international performances this season and never travels to the distant rounds; participation in the “Russia – Northern Forest” Baja is a pleasant family tradition for him.
The division of the multi-round FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies into two separate series (the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas) dramatically increased the number of necessary trips to the competitions – there are three races (Russia – Northern Forest Baja, Qatar Cross-Country Rally and Dubai International Baja) in the calendar for three and a half weeks. These conditions have thrown many racers into a dilemma – try to fight in both series or choose only one. The G-Energy Team crew of Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov also had to choose the series for participation. In Karelia they started in Mini All4 Racing, in Qatar – in BMW X3 CC; and today in Dubai the crew have driven Toyota Hilux Overdrive to the starting podium…
Baja in Dubai traditionally runs along the sandy surface; local tracks force the co-drivers to kick into gear – constant course choice and attentiveness to the nuances of navigation allow you to take the lead. However, only the first starting crews can have some difficult here – the followers prefer to track the direction of movement along the tyre marks on the sand, referring to the road book directions. A compact, looped track will allow crews to demonstrate the skill of piloting on sand dunes, as well as show the speed characteristics of vehicles and compete in the maximum power of the motors on those segments of the distance where the track will lead the field to even solid plateaus.
This year 27 crews in cars and T3 category ATVs will join the 55 riders on quads and motorcycles (by the way, there are three brave women) to fight for the victory. Attention of cross-country fans will be engrossed to the fastest crews and several drivers have a chance to be in the first positions: Sheikh Khalid Al-Quassimi, performing in the Dakar prototype for the Abu Dhabi Racing team; Vladimir Vasilyev in Toyota of a Belgian technical team; Lithuanian Benediktas Vanagas will try to compete with them (currently he is occupying the third position in the interim classification of the Bajas series). Two crews from the Czech Republic can intervene in the fight – Martin Prokop (in the Ford Raptor RS CC) and Miroslav Zapletal (in the Ford F-150 Evo); Polish drivers Jakub Przygonski and Martin Kaczmarski are not going to fall behind the group of favorites either. The duo of Russians “N” brothers, participating in the competitions pseudonymously, will drive the G-Force Bars, and another Russian crew Fedor Vorobyev / Kirill Shubin will try their luck in T3.1 category at the wheel of Can-Am Maverick X3.
On Saturday the crews will have to overcome a small liaison of 50.03 kilometers from the bivouac, located at the Dubai Autodrome, to the first special stage start, whose distance is 201.6 kilometers with nine control points; then the racing vehicles will return to their mechanics after another liaison of 50.26 kilometers.