After the most northern race in the calendar of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – Baja “Russia – Northern Forest”, the highest racing series moves to the south of the planet – the second World Cup round starts in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai International Baja starts on 9 March and is held in a short two-day format.
There are more and more Russians in the international series, but the G-Energy team crew of Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov is the only one that has planned to participate in the whole season.
By the first round results Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov secure the third position of the general classification among drivers and co-drivers. The Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah took the first place, Martin Prokop from the Czech Republic was the second.
The struggle at the stages in the Emirates is going to be interesting, as the FIA World Cup leaders Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel miss two consecutive races and do not plan to visit both Dubai Baja and Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge rally raid that will be held in late March.
The main contenders for the victory at the short Dubai race should be the three strongest crews: Vladimir Vasilyev, Martin Prokop and Jakub Przygonski. Of course, local drivers performing in the same T1 category vehicles can take away some points, but they do not plan to fight in the series all season long.
Complex logistics did not allow many European crews to deliver their vehicles directly from Karelia to the Emirates, so some of the participants refused to start at the Middle East region races and shifted their attention to the rounds in Europe.
The G-Energy team carried out the Mini car rebuild immediately after the Africa Eco Race marathon, where the silver award was not easy for the crew, and sent it to the Emirates in early February. At the Baja “Northern Forest” the crew started in the second car, similar to the Mini all4Racing that was used in Africa. Now the mechanics are preparing to travel to Dubai, where they will start the next week in the port – meeting the vehicles and beginning preparation for the “hot” race.
Konstantin Zhiltsov, the team co-driver, “We are studying the race documents and collecting information. The baja peculiarity is that it passes along sandy roads and cross-country terrain. There are also some small dunes with tricky winding profile. The heat and orientation for the co-drivers are bonuses to it – there are no roads and navigation plays an important role.
The difference from the first round, except for snow, cold and ice, is that professional rally skills go to the background here and the driver’s ability to ride off-road with navigation is appreciated especially high!”
On 8 March the crews will undergo administrative and technical checks at the Dubai Autodrome, where the Ceremonial Start will be held in the evening.
On Friday and Saturday the Baja participants will tackle two stages with a total length of 348 kilometers; and the second FIA World Cup round will end with the Ceremonial Finish at 5 pm on Saturday again at the Dubai Autodrome.