The 35th edition of the Spanish Baja Aragon 2018 confirmed a record number of participants – there are more than 230 crews after the administrative and technical checks that took place on the eve of the event. For the sixth year in a row the race headquarters is located in Teruel, and the route runs through the regions of Jiloca, Cuencas Mineras and Teruel surroundings.
In order to cheer the racers and rise their competitive spirit before the Baja start the organizers came up with an unusual Prologue that was held on 20 July. The starting order for the first ten FIA priority drivers is usually determined according to the Prologue results.
It was a section, winding through a mountainous terrain with a length of 12.81 km – you could either overcome it on foot or in a non-motorized vehicle, for example, by bicycle.
Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov coped with the Prologue with ease and with smiles, had time to admire the picturesque landscapes and started to get across to the new car.
Vladimir Vasilyev (driver), “Baja of Spain has started: there was a warm-up for us at the Prologue – by bicycle and then in a car. I liked the bicycle more (laughing). But the car is faster! Prologue is mountain paths, turns, normal Spanish roads; while we were riding a bike it was beautiful, you can’t see it in a car. We are getting used to the car: I haven’t driven this car for two years, it was changed a lot, but it’s ok, we’ll get across to it”.
Konstantin Zhiltsov (co-driver), “It was ok to ride a bicycle – good idea! We had to take the bikes from the bicycle races and ride through the mountains. The Prologue was cool, fast and technical, but slippery: the ground was kind of smooth, but with rock fines and there were stones on the sides, as always on the tracks in Spain. Therefore, you cannot make mistakes. It’s not really mountains, rather intermountain area. We went with Vladimir nearby, discussing our tasks. There were lots of racers around, moving in both directions: some of them were walking, others rode bikes.
I think we passed the Prologue very well – we finished the fifth – everything was ok: we made notes, read the Road Book, drove carefully, in our style. We have never shone at the Prologue, the Prologue is not our specialty, and we will play real games later at the special stages. Of course, we’re getting used to the new car, it’s difficult to understand all the nuances immediately, and there is something to work on. In general, the car is undamaged, everything is ok, and we will work!”
Aron Domzala (Overdrive team) started the first at SS-1, followed by Jakub Przygonski (Orlen team/X-Raid), who opened on the road to Xevi Pons (Overdrive), and Martin Prokop (MP Sports) was the fourth. The VRT team crew of Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov started fifth; we recall that the crew is performing with the starting number 203.
All their fans admired the dedication and strength of the racers: right after the FIA World Cup race the crew will go to the Russian Rally Raid Championship round that will be held in the frames of the Silk Way international marathon. When asked about how it is possible to take part in two races during one week, Vladimir Vasilyev responds with a smile, “It’s easy! We can participate in two or three races; the main thing is to be in time!”
Now the racers are concentrating on the Baja Aragon 2018 Saturday stage that will be consist of two special stages – SS2 – 215.62 km and SS3 – 154.93 km; there is one hour break for the service between the special stages. For the whole sports day the racers will have to overcome fast Spanish roads with mountain sites, pits, bottlenecks and bumps of turns that require very high concentration. The leader’s vehicle will arrive to the Parc Ferme after all the special stages around 17:00.
Follow the moving cars on the track online here: http://html5.anube.es/seg/?rally=rally1652 , follow the stages results https://online3.atodomotor.com/online/2018/bajaaragoncars/1/rally.html.