The challenging Baja Aragon that is held in the vicinity of Teruel ended with the victory of the G-Energy Team crew Vladimir Vasilyev / Konstantin Zhiltsov. In the “renewed” Toyota Hilux built by the Overdrive Racing team the Russians successfully overcame the entire distance of the Baja that was more than 800 km.
It was the final competition day that became decisive: the participants passed only one special stage with a length of 127.45 km. SS-4 in its characteristics was not very different from the previous stages; the route began in a mountainous area, and ended in descent into the fields. An additional highlight was brought by weather conditions: heavy rain poured unexpectedly; it soaked roads and complicated emotionally intense struggle, as evidenced by many retirements. It was here where several racers finished ahead of schedule, including Czech racer Miroslav Zapletal and Xevi Pons, who was the third in T1 yesterday.
It was an exciting and very dense battle for seconds. Jakub Przygonski, who finished yesterday in the fourth position, could drive with the same speed, because all his 215 points scored for the previous rounds of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies are enough to retain the leadership, even if he had not taken part in the Baja Aragon. But sportsman character did not allow him to rest on his laurels and forced him to move further at high speeds along the soggy road – at SS-4 Cuba made several mistakes, but he was able to rise in the final classification and took the second place at the end of the competition! Przygonski noted that it was a great fight with Vasilyev and Prokop, and he especially liked the track, full of turns, reminiscent of the rally style of creating roads.
Martin Prokop’s result proves the fact that in sports everything can change at any second. Yesterday’s leader started first at SS-4, and it was a difficult test for the Czech crew. Meeting with a large cobblestone on an unfamiliar track caused the need to stop and change the punctured tyre – that is why Prokop lost precious minutes, so necessary in the dense fight that took place at the 35th edition of the Spanish Baja. No matter how hard Martin Prokop tried to raise the pace, he constantly watched the rivals catching up in the rear-view mirrors, and was able to win back less than a minute that was not enough – only the ninth position according to the SS-4 results. After the finish Martin Prokop admitted that this battle was really interesting and challenging, even though it was lost. However, Prokop remained in the prize area and finished the third in the overall classification.
The Russian crew Vasilyev / Zhiltsov did not change the tactics of reasonable risk and kept the vehicle and the tyres undamaged, although guys set only the fourth time by the final stage results: and the three winners of SS-4 were the Spaniard Rodrigo Gutierrez and the Poles Przygonski and Domzala respectively. However, it was a lost battle in order to win the war – Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov headed the list of favorites in the overall classification and became the Baja Aragon 2018 winners!
Vladimir Vasilyev, driver, “I like the Spanish Baja complexity – the special stages are almost like at the rally and they pass through the mountain spiral road. It’s not easy to drive in the mountains, but today it was double challenging. It was raining at night, and before the start rain turned into a shower, so it was necessary to hide in the car for half an hour waiting for the start. Then the clouds disappeared, and although there was no rain at the special stage, the road became incredibly slippery and dirty, so it was important to apply all the skills to stay on the track. We had to drive very carefully and focused, so as not to screw up, but it was impossible to go slowly either, because a minute or two decided everything. The struggle is very tight this year, and rivals hurry, so you always have to be toned. It was a chic race!”
Baja España Aragón Teruel 2018 winners:
1. No. 203 Vladimir Vasilyev / Konstantin Zhiltsov 6:37:50.0
2. No. 201 Jakub Przygonski / Tom Colsoul 6:38:42.0
3. No. 202 Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek 6:39:12.0
So Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov earn 30 points for the victory at the Baja Aragon, oust Martin Prokop from the second position in the overall standings and slowly approach the leader – Jakub Przygonski. Four more world series rounds are ahead, and the struggle that will continue at the next stage in Hungary, XV Hungarian Baja (9-12 August), intrigues more and more.
Now Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov are going to Russia, but not to celebrate the victory – from shipboard straight into a ball – the third round of the Russian Championship in Rally Raids, taking place in the frames of Silk Way 2018 international marathon, will be held in Astrakhan from 24 to 27 July. Congratulations to the winners and we wish them to confirm their status at the Russian competition!