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Italian Baja: Russian Boris Gadasin again in the lead of the Baja.

In Friday’s Prolgue in San Vito al Tagliamento (a little less than 10 km from Ponte Rosso to Carbona) the best time was by Tonnie Van Deijne (8’14’’6), taking advantage of the potentiality of a Mitsubishi Pajero Evo, ex “official” of the dragon - Stephane Peterhansel - of Dakar.

Boris Gadasin (Nissan Pick-up) from Russia is second with a 5’’3 gap, and although considered the main favourite may have decided to start without forcing the pace so as not to risk more than is necessary. In third place Miroslav Zapletal (Mitsubishi L200) from the Czech Republic with a 8’’9 gap, another ambitious racer for the race in general.

Therefore everything is going according to predictions, with foreign crews occupying the podium places of the race, both as a result of their unquestionable driving qualities and also because of the availability of vehicles that have decisively high performance levels. Then in fourth position is the Belgian Joost van Cauwenberghe (Nissan Navara Overdrive) in 10’’8, extending the line of protagonists from over the border.

The first out of the Italians was local hero Angelo Montico (Fornasari RR 450), in 8’29’’7, with a 16’’2 gap from the Dutch in the lead. A result which is not at all surprising, considering that the “giant of the magredi” is used to scampering around on the stones of the Tagliamento during training, and is also a connoisseur of all the hostilities the terrain offers to a race.

“I could race with my eyes closed”, Montico explained Friday evening, „even if the Prologue is only a small taster of the race and tomorrow will be a completely different thing.” The first impact of Pierpaolo Larini (Mitsubishi Pajero) was very good, right behind the Pordenonese with a 1’’1 gap to make up, and with a 16’’2 gap from Van Deijne. In order to find the third Italian you need to go to tenth position, occupied by Andrea Toro (Nissan Navara) with a 36’’1 gap from the leader and 21’’ from Montico.

It is worth noting that the first ten are all off-road vehicles from the T1/12 category: tout terrain vehicles modified with a petrol engine with over 2 litres capacity. All this to say that in eleventh place there is the Czech Viktor Chytka with a gap of 40’’, driving a diesel engine Toyota Lc 80 and that his time must be put into context with the adversaries of his class.

On the other hand, the start of Lorenzo Codecà (Suzuki New Grand Vitara) resulted in a handicap. After only a kilometre and a half into the special stage the engine stopped and all the Milanese could do was park off the track and hope to be rescued by the mechanics from assistance so as to get him ready to restart today.

On Saturday, Boris Gadasin (Nissan Navara) dominated in the first leg of the Italian Baja. The Russian pilot, who started fairly quietly in the Prologue on Friday, yesterday settled everything by taking control of the situation and finished the evening with a total time of 2h53’23’’, distancing himself with a gap of 3’15’’ from the Czech Miroslav Zapletal and 4’46’’ from the Dutch Tonnie Van Deijne (both driving a Mitsubishi).

First of the Italians is our Angelo Montico driving a Fornasari Rally Raid 450, who is sixth in the overall classification despite a few mechanical and electrical problems mended by assistance.

FIRST ROUND Shortened (as a result of excess water in the Tagliamento) to a little more than 78 km after the briefing of Friday evening, the route paid tribute to Gadasin (56’33’’) straight away and distanced him from Zapletal with a gap of 1’18’’ and Van Deijne with a 2’31’’ gap who therefore fell to third position.

Super Montico was fifth with a 3’38’’ gap, in spite of navigational problems. The same problem which caused Pierpaolo Larini (Pajero) a delay of 7’40’’ from the top position. Giovanni Manfrinato (Megane Proto) stopped as a result of engine failure. For the Italian champion Lorenzo Codecà (Suzuki Grand Vitara), the race lasted only 2 km of the Prologue as he was left stranded due to a propeller breakdown.

SECOND STAGE Gadasin is still in the lead (54’34’’), Zapletal has a 1’05’’ gap (2’27’’ overall) and Van Deijne a 1’52’’ gap (4’18’’). The gaps become longer for the racers. Montico falls behind to tenth position as a result of electrical problems. Riccardo Colombo (Mitsubishi L200) and Valter Benazzato (Suzuki Grand Vitara) use this to their advantage in order to overtake him. Larini also abandons the race because of clutch failure and therefore only 33 remain.

THIRD STAGE Gadasin succeeds for the third time (53’57’’), this time Van Deijne precedes Zapletal by 20’’ but both are still behind the Russian outrider. Having sorted out his problems, Montico occupies the fourth time (56’25’’) and closed the day by being sixth overall (again top of the Italians) with a 17’23’’ gap from Gadasin, but with a 3’26’’ advantage on Benazzato (eighth) and 4’23’’ on Colombo (ninth).

MOTORBIKES Although a little unexpected, Claudio Mana is in the lead on a Aprilia Rxv 550 (total after two stages 2h06’33’’), in front of Stefano Bosio on a Ktm Exc R530 with a 2’11’’ gap and Nicola Dutto on a Husqvarna Te 450 with a 3’26’’ delay. No withdrawals amongst the 9 motorbikes in the race.

QUADS In accordance to predictions Josef Machacek (Yamaha Raptor) from the Czech Republic, with a total time of 1h52’27’’ is in the lead, in front of the Italian Champion Tiziano Sette (Polaris 525) with a 7’14’’ gap. In third place, the other Czech Martin Plechaty (Ktm 530) with a gap of 9’28’’. At the start line there were 21, now there are only 14 left in the race.

CONCLUSION Today the second and last leg with 2 stages for the cars and one for the motorbikes and quads. The grand final will take place in the square, Piazza del Popolo, in San Vito al Tagliamento with awards on the arrival podium (motorbikes and quads at 3 pm, cars at 3:45 pm).

2009/03/22 | 12:10 CET | Editor: MR/Italian Baja/Rita Konya

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