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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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Hungarian Baja: Battle of the Dust Devils - a Baja Summary by Robb Pritchard.








The combination of politics and the weather are enough to spoil anyone's day. The "Hungarian Baja" is renowned for it's stunning scenery and hilly tracks that give the stages a 3D effect but the organisers have been fighting a running battle with the local Green Party who vehemently oppose the use of the countryside for any vehicle sports.

The only option apart from cancellation was to move the location of the event to somewhere less environmentally sensitive and so crews were presented with a hastily reccied route around farmland in the plains south of Gyor, some 140 km north-west of Budapest in direction of the Austrian border.

On the map it looked like a rather uninspiring mass of straights and 90 degree corners but on the ground it was a route through beautiful countryside following the edges of fields, along the tops of dykes and through patches of thick forest. It wasn't the favourite track of any of the drivers, but it was certainly the best of a bad situation.

But there was another issue the crews had to contend with... It might have been perfect weather for picnics but the totally still air after a week of constant sun meant that straight away Leonid Novitskiy was handed a massive advantage as he had a clear run through the prologue while everyone else behind had to crawl through the thick cloud of dust. Fellow Russian Boris Gadasin following two minutes behind probably drives faster to the shops but in places he couldn't see further than a few meters in front...

Friday's prologue, a little strangely, took place before the ceremonial start, but when darkness fell the floodlights came out and against the backdrop of the baroque façade of Gyor's town hall the cars were flagged off - through a column of huge flame throwers. Magic! Saturday's leg was made up of 4 special stages totalling 209 competitive kilometres with two more on Sunday with a combined length of 96 km, making a full route of 305 km.

Everyone outside the X-raid camp prayed for wind, or at least rain for the second day but to the chagrin of many drivers Saturday dawned bright and still but despite having clean air in front Novitskiy was first to run on the slippery grassy sections and immediately dropped down to 3rd behind Zapletal and Gadasin. But then the pendulum of luck swung back his way as once the whole field had passed once over the route the second time the drivers headed through they encountered clouds of dust again, letting Novitskiy away with a big advantage.

In the afternoon though, just to prove that God listens to G-Force's prayers, the wind came for the second loop of stages. It started as a strong breeze but soon whipped up into a full scale storm with gusts hard enough to snap branches off trees. Unfortunately though Gadasin couldn't take advantage of this providence as while the Lord Almighty was dealing with all the obscuring motes of dust the devil (obviously in cahoots with the X-raid team) stole in and messed up Gadasin's suspension settings...

"We made the anti-roll bars stiffer to make the car more responsive but unfortunately this made me loose all the feeling in the handling," Gadasin shrugged. It dropped him down to 3rd behind the flying Zapletal, and a minute and a half off the lead.

"All we can do is attack," he said to reporters as the cars were being wheeled off to Parc Ferme for the night and on the first stage of the final day that's exactly what he did, taking 21 seconds back from the leader, although he wasn't too impressed. "I am sure that Novitskiy was driving conservatively so the time looked faster than it was. But now we have one stage left and we'll do the same again."

Nowhere near the fight for the lead but popular among the partisan crowd was local driver Balázs Szalay in his hulking Opel Antara RR, another car running with the amazing sounding 7-litre V8. His race came to a rather premature end on the final morning when he cut a corner a little too much and caught a tree with the front wheel. It was quite a heavy impact (I know because it happened right in front of me) which broke something in the front axle. He ground to a halt not much further away.

The same tree had also caught out up and coming driver Vladimir Vasilev in his G-Force Proto the day before. He might not be the easiest guy in the service park to interview, but then he has no need to pander to sponsor's request or to woo journalists. He has enough in the bank to pay his own way and has got to the enviable point in life where he can live his dream.

He was taught how to drive on the limit by his team leader Boris Gadasin but unlike others who are happy enough just to be behind the wheel he actually managed to win a stage of the Silk Way rally on only his third ever Rally Raid... and that is something very special, especially considering that drivers of the calibre of Stephane Peterhansel and Krzysztof Holowczyc were in the list of those he beat. He brought the same raw skill and determination to the Hungarian Baja although his 2nd and 6th place stage times were negated by the accident with the tree.

And so the scene was set for the final stage. Novitskiy had a lead of just over a minute over Zapletal but a resurgent Gadasin was on a mission. But again it was fate that intervened and set the result. Zapletal went flat out to protect his 2nd place but then a problem with a propshaft crippled his BMW and put pay to his runner-up position. And ironically, that which assured Gadasin of second place also cost him any chance of the win as the time spent in Zapletal's dust trail allowed Novitskiy to seal the win.

In the end it was a very measured and mature drive by the reigning Cross-country champion. The X-raid team leader's speciality is the desert marathons and so he can take great pride in beating last year's winner Gadasin.

Was it a lucky win? Because of the dust that everyone else had to drive through, yes. Was it deserved? Because of the way he controlled the whole event without putting a wheel wrong, also yes. And with another huge desert event, the Pharaons Rally in the shifting sands of Egypt coming in a month's time, few now would bet against this driver coming into his prime for retaining the title.

2011/08/29 | 14:29 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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