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Breslau Poland: Rally on standby by Military because of actual political situation. | 18.07.2014


Breslau Poland: The truck-legends are back - scrutineering - Ford Ranger. | 12.07.2014


Breslau Poland PHOTOS: First Impressions of the Scrutineering in Recz (60). | 12.07.2014


Africa Eco Race: End of preferential rates - review rally presentations Europe. | 04.07.2014


Dakar Rally 2015: Carlos Sousa switch from Great Wall to Mitsubishi Petrobras. | 04.07.2014


Hungarian Baja: 2014 is promising a big challenge for 11th edition in Hungary. | 03.07.2014


Dakar Rally 2015: Peugeot 2008 DKR - first test, new detailed technical data. | 03.07.2014













































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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












Breslau Poland: Rally on standby by Military because of actual political situation. | 18.07.2014 09:56 |




Breslau Poland RESULTS: Daily results after SS01 Recz / Recz roundcourse | 13.07.2014 23:38 |




Breslau Poland: The truck-legends are back - scrutineering - Ford Ranger. | 12.07.2014 15:17 |




Breslau Poland PHOTOS: First Impressions of the Scrutineering in Recz (60). | 12.07.2014 14:29 |




Africa Eco Race: End of preferential rates - review rally presentations Europe. | 04.07.2014 15:44 |




Rally Raid VIDEO: Special tuned and loud Nissan Patrol RB25DET from Bulgaria | 04.07.2014 15:14 |




Red Bull Romaniacs: The most diversified Extreme Enduro track ever in 2014 | 04.07.2014 14:24 |




Dakar Rally 2015: Carlos Sousa switch from Great Wall to Mitsubishi Petrobras. | 04.07.2014 11:21 |




Baja Deutschland VIDEO: Summary of Dutch competitors in Germany in June | 04.07.2014 10:37 |




TORC 2014: Douglas continues to run up front - finishes Third in Round 7 | 04.07.2014 10:17 |




Hungarian Baja: 2014 is promising a big challenge for 11th edition in Hungary. | 03.07.2014 22:28 |




TORC 2014: Barlow Motorsports - All four cars had various levels of success | 03.07.2014 22:22 |




Dakar Rally 2015 VIDEO: The all-new Peugeot 2008 DKR buggy - first preview | 03.07.2014 19:08 |




Dakar Rally 2015: Peugeot 2008 DKR - first test, new detailed technical data. | 03.07.2014 18:48 |




Donaldson CC: The African sands deliver their verdict in the Dakar Challenge | 03.07.2014 18:18 |




TORC 2014: Team Kleiman Off Road Racing - "Big House Brawl" Race Report | 03.07.2014 18:11 |




TORC 2014: Ross Hoek gets first PRO-4x4 Podium - third place in round 8 | 03.07.2014 17:55 |




Donaldson CC VIDEO: Impressions Toyota Team Kalahari Botswana Desert race | 03.07.2014 17:48 |




Donaldson CC: Rhide SA´s Brian Baragtwanath wins Quads Dakar Challenge | 03.07.2014 17:38 |




Donaldson CC: Bertholdt / Rousseau win free entry for the Dakar Rally 2015. | 03.07.2014 17:17 |




Donaldson CC: History repeats in Special Vehicles Class in Botswana rally | 03.07.2014 15:40 |




Donaldson CC: Taylor / Murphy win Toyota Botswana 1000 Dakar Challenge. | 03.07.2014 15:17 |




OiLibya Morocco: Organizer NPO unveils details of the 2014 stages in Morocco. | 27.06.2014 14:22 |




OiLibya Morocco VIDEO: Official trailer for the OiLibya Rally in Morocco 2014 | 27.06.2014 14:04 |




Dakar Challenge: Team Rhide SA ready for the Dakar Challenge in Botswana | 26.06.2014 18:52 |




FIA CC World Cup: UAE study points way to increasing safety to saving lives. | 26.06.2014 17:48 |




LOORR 2014: Solid weekend at Miller sport park in Utah for Casey Currie | 26.06.2014 17:02 |




Dakar Rally 2015: Japanese Hino truck already preparing for 2015 Dakar Rally | 26.06.2014 16:59 |




Dakar Rally 2015: X-raid strikes back - Dakar winner Roma extends contract. | 25.06.2014 17:33 |




ULTRA 4 Europe: Second day report ULTRA 4 race in Italy - by Robb Pritchard | 25.06.2014 14:43 |




AXCR Asia CC Rally: Outlander PHEV to tackle rally for second straight year. | 25.06.2014 14:14 |




AXCR Asia CC Rally VIDEO: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Hybrid in AXCR Rally | 25.06.2014 14:08 |




Donaldson CC: Desperate times for Special Vehicles in Botswana 1000 desert | 25.06.2014 13:53 |




TORC 2014: Flying Dutchman Mike Vanden Heuvel prepares for Crandon Brush | 25.06.2014 12:59 |




TORC 2014 VIDEO: Impressions from TORC Series by Amsoil round Bark River | 25.06.2014 12:57 |




TORC 2014: Dale Chestnut wins RD2 and leads TORC Classix Championship | 25.06.2014 12:46 |




TORC 2014: Steve Barlow and Adrian Cenni take PRO-class podiums in BR | 25.06.2014 12:45 |




Dakar Rally 2015: Former Winner Nasser al-Attiyah to switch to Toyota 2015. | 24.06.2014 17:54 |




LOORR 2014: Team Toyo’s Kyle LeDuc captures third successive sweep in Utah | 24.06.2014 17:15 |




Baja Rally: Mexican rally adds new Adventure Bike Expert class for 2014. | 24.06.2014 16:54 |




















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