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Dakar Rally 2015: The real Odyssey before - or how to be at the Start in time. | 29.08.2014


Defender Challenge: Rd 5 of the series by Bowler takes place this weekend. | 29.08.2014


Rally dos Sertões: Honda HRC riders finished first part of the marathon stage. | 29.08.2014


Rally dos Sertões: Top 10 cars mixed after hardest stage - Spinelli still leader. | 28.08.2014


Rally dos Sertões PHOTOS: Impressions from the Marathonrally in Brazil (77). | 28.08.2014


Rally dos Sertões: Two X-Rally NWM Ford Ranger in good 2nd and 4th position. | 28.08.2014


Baja Poland: Poland to welcome 112 competitors in Baja Poland this weekend. | 28.08.2014













































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Baja White Hills: New FIA-candidate in the Russian snow to start this weekend.






By Robb Pritchard: Images of a a bright-orange Hummer chasing a pea-green Mini across the South American landscape are still fresh in our minds but now it's time for the 2012 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.

March in Italy will see crews come together for the first round of a championship that will take them so some of the world's toughest rally-raid events, which this year includes the UAE, Qatar, Tunisia, Morocco, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Egypt and Portugal.

But the first race of the year is not in the dust or sand, but the frozen landscape of Russia. The "White Hills Russian Baja" is a candidate event vying for full inclusion into the 2013 calendar and is the only truly winter event.

The race is organised by the Belgorod Off-Road Team, who for those that followed my Africa Eco Race reports, were the ones who kindly drove me through Africa in their chase car. Based in a motorsport centre called Virage a 115km stage ploughed out through the rolling hills outside the city of Belgorod will be run 3 times making a 345km event, with short super-specials at the beginning and the end.

No foreigners have braved the infamous Russian winter but although F1 has Vitaly Petrov and Evgeni Novikov is impressing in the WRC it's rally-raid that Russian drivers really seem to excel in. Finns are famous in rallying because they are used to the speed of the roads in their native forests and some joke that maybe the Russians are good at rally-raid because they are used to their terrible state of their roads.

Leonid Novitsky in an X-Raid BMW X3CC won the 2011 FIA World Cup and two-time Baja Championship winner Boris Gadasin was 3rd in his self-built G-Force Proto. Russia also took the Production Cup trophy as Ilya Kuznetzov dominated the T2 class in his Toyota Land Cruiser. It might be a local event but the field is full of quality with ex-Russian champions and Dakar drivers...

The first Super-Special was a 3km long slither around a rally school training circuit which is part of the Virage motorsport complex. A few days ago it was -20 but today it's a balmy -4, which for me is still damn cold, especially when the wind is blowing the snowstorm sideways with such a force that it stings my face. I was worried about pneumonia but the Russians said that spring must be coming soon...

Last year a new name popped up on timesheets as Vladimir Vasiliev drove some giant killing performances, leading the Pharoans Rally on his first sand-based event and winning a stage of the Silk Way Rally and he was first away in his monstrous 7 litre V8 G-Force Proto. His team mate is experienced driver Victor Volikov, stepping up from T2 to the top class and it was interesting to see how the two different drivers tackled the stage.

Vasiliev tore around attacking every corner and widening the course here and there as he slid into the snow banks and powered out of them sending the snow almost as high as the following helicopter while Voikov, co-driven by his son Anatoli, drove much more precisely, sliding the car around between the banks instead of through them.

I was standing next to team leader Boris Gadasin and over the wind he said, "Victor is faster," and he was right. Victor beat Vladimir by 3 seconds. It was also a good opportunity to ask him what is new on the cars for 2012. "Well, we've developed the steering and have new dampers from Donnere to improve the handling as well as a redesigned engine bay that will make it easier for the mechanics to get to the engine."

Most talked about car in the field is the Yoh-Crossover which will become Russia's newest car when it starts production at the end of the year. Boris was also interested in it. "Alexandra Zhelunov is a strong driver and the car is well built. Also the National class which they are competing in is quite open so it will be interesting to see what they have made." They made it around in a promising 5th place behind a well-driven Lada Niva.

Tomorrow the crews will twice tackle the 115km loop around the white hills of Belgorod and the weather will be much the same; snow and high winds. Right now the wind is howling through the gaps in the press centre windows like something out of a Steve King novel, my boots are on the radiator drying and I am looking forward to a long hot shower to thaw me out before tomorrow.

2012/02/24 | 13:35 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/PRITCHARD











Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results CARS & TRUCKS SS05 on Thursday | 29.08.2014 03:33 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results BIKES & QUADS SS05 on Thursday | 29.08.2014 03:24 |




Dakar Rally 2015: The real Odyssey before - or how to be at the Start in time. | 29.08.2014 02:40 |




Defender Challenge VIDEO: Impressions of the series by Bowler Rd 4 Wales | 29.08.2014 01:31 |




Defender Challenge: Rd 5 of the series by Bowler takes place this weekend. | 29.08.2014 01:27 |




Rally dos Sertões: Honda HRC riders finished first part of the marathon stage. | 29.08.2014 00:47 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Mitsubishi Petrobras Team crews SS04 Wednesday | 28.08.2014 17:10 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Official no comment rally video of SS04 Wednesday | 28.08.2014 17:08 |




Rally dos Sertões: Top 10 cars mixed after hardest stage - Spinelli still leader. | 28.08.2014 16:33 |




Rally dos Sertões PHOTOS: Impressions from the Marathonrally in Brazil (77). | 28.08.2014 04:57 |




Rally dos Sertões: Two X-Rally NWM Ford Ranger in good 2nd and 4th position. | 28.08.2014 04:48 |




Baja Poland: Poland to welcome 112 competitors in Baja Poland this weekend. | 28.08.2014 02:20 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results CARS & TRUCKS SS04 Wednesday | 28.08.2014 01:56 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results BIKES & QUADS SS04 Wednesday | 28.08.2014 00:44 |




Rally dos Sertões: KTM’s Marc Coma hangs on to overall lead in dos Sertoes. | 27.08.2014 23:48 |




Rally dos Sertões: Paulo Gonçalves clinches victory in SS04 - the longest stage. | 27.08.2014 23:32 |




Desafío Inca: German manufacturer battle - X-Raid Mini vs SAM Mercedes CC | 27.08.2014 19:26 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results CARS & TRUCKS SS03 on Tuesday | 27.08.2014 18:33 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results BIKES & QUADS SS03 on Tuesday | 27.08.2014 18:29 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Mitsubishi Petrobras Team crews SS03 on Tuesday | 27.08.2014 17:55 |




Rally dos Sertões: Both Ford Rangers reached top speeds above 175 km/h. | 27.08.2014 17:07 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Onboard with X-Rally Ford Ranger Baumgart / Cincea | 27.08.2014 16:35 |




Rally dos Sertões: Stagewin for Toyota´s Varela in S3 but Spinelli still leader. | 27.08.2014 16:19 |




Rally dos Sertões: Goncalves - "Hope to ride hard without making mistakes" | 27.08.2014 16:00 |




Rally dos Sertões: Marc Coma wins again in Bikes and remains the leadership. | 27.08.2014 15:35 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Mitsubishi Petrobras Team crews SS02 on Monday | 26.08.2014 19:14 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Official no comment rally video of SS02 on Monday | 26.08.2014 18:57 |




Baja Poland: X-raid with four Mini All4 Racing - chase for World Cup continues. | 26.08.2014 17:21 |




Baja Poland: Overdrive Racing with five Toyota Hilux and Nasser Al Attiyah. | 26.08.2014 16:45 |




Rally dos Sertões: Mitsubishi´s Spinelli / Haddad the new leader in the cars. | 26.08.2014 05:17 |




Rally dos Sertões: Gonçalves wins SS2 in Bikes but Coma still overall leader. | 26.08.2014 05:02 |




Rally dos Sertões PHOTOS: Nice impressions from the first days in Brazil (79) | 26.08.2014 04:53 |




Baja Poland VIDEO: Official trailer of the Baja Poland FIA CC World Cup 2014 | 26.08.2014 04:32 |




Donaldson CC: Test of character for the teams at South African Vryburg 450 | 26.08.2014 03:49 |




Rallyraid: Kamaz Master legend Ilgizar Mardeev tragically died in an accident. | 26.08.2014 03:09 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results CARS & TRUCKS SS02 on Monday | 26.08.2014 02:30 |




Rally dos Sertões RESULTS: Overall results BIKES & QUADS SS02 on Monday | 26.08.2014 01:59 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Driving onboard with Overdrive Toyota Hilux of Verala | 26.08.2014 01:46 |




Rally dos Sertões: Honda´s Paulo Goncalves wins second stage in the bikes. | 26.08.2014 01:28 |




Rally dos Sertões VIDEO: Official no comment video of SS01 Sunday (crash) | 26.08.2014 00:56 |




















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