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This is the single-news section of the news "Offroad & Motorsports". To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Northern Forest: 2.700 metres Prologue on twisty roads at Kirovskiy.

Stage run in Kirovskiy district of the Leningrad region. And although this stage wasn't fully representative of the conditions which crews are going to discover in the route's main area, it was quite enough to get the first taste of a snow-covered surface and get used to studded tyres and the specific behavior of cars on icy roads. The track for the Prologue was prepared at the stadium of technical kinds of sport "Ladoga" and was configured so that two competitors would start simultaneously in opposite directions.

First pair to tackle the twisty superspecial consisted of two world-famous drivers: Boris Gadasin, competing for his recently-launched own team G-Force Motorsport, and Miroslav Zapletal, who also entered this rally in a petrol car in contrast to the diesel Pajero he competed in last year. Gadasin, who upgraded his Nissan car by putting a more powerful engine into it, proved to be very fast straight out of the box.

The time he set couldn't be beaten until the very end, when all the international competitors had already finished, and only the guests from neighbouring Latvia, a championship round of which the Northern Forest Baja also hosted, managed to do so, having reached the finish 4 seconds faster then the crew of the FIA International Cup for Cross Country Bajas 2007 winner. We must mention, though, that this crew (and hence its results) doesn't count for the international classification and the FIA standings.

The name of the hero was Raivis Zeltins. He started the Prologue in the last pair, when nobody even expected changes in the standings, but eventually he overtook not only his championship's direct rivals, but also the crews in much more powerful and better prepared cars. Notwithstanding Gadasin, who came to the event as a clear favourite, among those drivers beaten by Raivis were even such fast ones as Miroslav Zapletal (Mitsubishi L200) and Ruslan Misikov (Nissan Frontier).

Besides them, he also outpaced those representatives of T1 Group who couldn't come to grips with their vehicles, for example Giovanni Manfrinato from Italy. Giovanni is an experienced rally driver, he won his native WRC round in GroupN category in 2007 and last year took part in Rally Sweden to improve his snow-driving skills. But it didn't help him much as Northern Forest's prologue was his first time behind the wheel of Megane Proto car.

Though very agile and suitable for the twisty nature of the track, it wasn't set up ideally, and the Italian just couldn't get maximum out of his vehicle. At least, he enjoyed the competition, and not only won against his stage rival, but also made one more loop after he missed the exit. However, we do believe he did it deliberately to enjoy the 3D landscape of the stage one more time.

And it was really worth it! The scenery was really amazing: the track was prepared in a former quarry, and it meant there were a lot of uphill and downhill sections, where it seemed very easy to make a costly mistake. Fortunately, it didn't happen, because most of the competitors chose a safe approach to that challenge, as it's widely known that you can't win a race in a first special stage, but you can lose one in already the first corner.

However, their reliable driving didn't hamper the entertainment, as even in a so-called safe mode they went sideways in almost every corner and jumped high on crests. The fight was especially interesting to follow from the nearby hills, that's why the organisers of the Baja invited local children to enjoy the action. It was a really great experience for young boys and girls, who witnessed the bright show with all their attention, which is characteristic for all kids. That meant they produced more support than all the fans and media present at the Prologue together.

The special stage was followed by a prize-giving ceremony which took place at the World War II memorial to the Leningrad's siege breaking. The winners of the special stage were awarded with Cups of the Governor of the Leningrad region and with special nutritious presents, which consisted of products, grown and nursed in the region. A special prize was handed to Yuriy Borovikov who behind the wheel of his Chevy Niva of the national class finished fifth (5th!) overall, just 5 second behind the powerful T1 superproduction vehicle of the reigning Russian Champion Ruslan Misikov.

Leg 2 will start tomorrow with SS2 in Gromovo settlement, where at 9:40 the first crew will hit the ground of the loop route. All the news and quotes from the stages will be available on our web-site.

2009/03/02 | 21:22 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Northern Forest

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