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Northern Forest Baja Special-Newssection (Candidate for FIA Cross Country Bajas)

This is the single-news section of the special of the Northern Forest Baja 2008, candidate for the FIA Worldcup for Cross Country Bajas. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Northern Forest: Baja starts with "Race of the Champions" Progolue

For the prologue of the Northern Forest Baja the organisers found out something really special: A race on parallel tracks, two by two – just like at "Race of the Champions". The prologue took place on a rallycross track South of the city of St. Petersburg. The terrain was very well prepared: A 2.9 km round course, watchable from all sides, with two tribunes at the long start/finish straight. Towards the end of the track the competitors changed track in the traditional way through a bridge/tunnel.

As for the soil, it was quite tricky. In summer it must be normally muddy-sandy but at this season it must have been covered with snow and ice. But the bad weather messed up plans a bit. The temperatures were as high as +4 degrees for all day long, and for that we had a strong, cold wind, sometimes ’spiced up’ with some snow and rain. This made the soil really difficult: somewhere hard with gravel, on other places wet or even iced.

Due to the difficult circumstances the crews had to make a hard decision right at the beginning: studded or offroad tire? Most of them opted for using the normal offroad tires, which proved to be an advantage. Those who used the studded tires had problem with too much traction - especially in the narrow and fast corners. Those who opted for studded tires today were not only slow but also had the chance to have a tire come off of the rim.

For the delight of the many fans who came to the track despite the bad weather, the competitors fought really fiercly against each other, so we could see really spectacular battles. At the end last year’s winner Boris Gadasin (Russia, Nissan Navara) proved to be the fastest just in front of his team mate Ruslan Misikov (Russia, Nissan Navara) and Miroslav Zapletal (Czech Republic, Mitsubishi Pajero). Misikov had only a one second gap to the leader while Zapletal was 6 seconds behind him. "The prologue was a real joy" told us Czech Zapletal in the evening. "The track was very good for us and our car, it was a superb start for the weekend."

After the prologue the crews had to cover a transfer section of about 210 kilometres to the North towards Igora resort near last year’s start place, the town of Sosnovo. Igora will host the rally for the upcoming two longer days. Now everybody hopes for a better weather in the Northern places - at least when we arrived at the Igora winter sport paradise it seemed like we will have it. The landscape is covered with snow and the temperatures here are below the zero line. "The weather is crazy now, we have never ever experienced such a warm winter" said Sergey Lebedev from the organisation.

2008/02/22 | 22:40 CET | Editor: MR/HS

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