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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: Ice, snow and high speed in Russia.

One must have a bit of luck sometimes - and it seems like the "resposile for weather" this time wanted to be nice to the rally participants and sent us a beautiful cold winter morning to the Russian forests close to the border with Finland. Although last night it was not snowing, the temperature here in the North stayed a bit under melting point so the snow which fell some days earlier remained.

Instead of freezing -25 degrees of last year today’s three specials were run in nice -1 degree. The competitors had to complete a 84 km long track three times. The whole track was in thick pine forest, and the iced road allowed competitors to drive at high speed. Only some narrow corners and bumps made the special more difficult.

"This track reminded me on a WRC one" - told us Russian top driver Ruslan Misikov in the evening. "But it was extremely smooth, sometimes we flied through the corners without grip." The guilty was the sun which at the temperatures close to freezing point melted some of the iced passages. But Misikov had to cope with an other problem, too: "Our new Nissan was built for Africa not for this cold weather. The windscreen was always misty and frozen so we had to stop to clear it manually - that costed us a lot of time."

Even so Misikov finished the stage without problem - unlike some of his colleagues. First it was Alexey Berkut Russian champion in 2006, who rolled his Pajero short before the end of the first special. Fortunately the car wasn’t damaged so the crew could go on. "It was like hell" - said Berkut. "We last our windscreen and the icy wind was just unbelievable." At the service point the windscreen was replaced and the crew was able to finish the day successfully.

The favourite of the rally, last year’s winner and FIA Baja Cup champion Boris Gadasin didn’t have so much luck. After some technical problems with the transmission of his Nissan Navara he had to quit the race short before the end of the second special. One of the two French Bowler crews also retired due to transmission problems.

Gadasin’s bad luck opened the door to the ’second row’ - like ’snow newcomer’ and darling of the audience and the international media Miroslav Zapletal and Miloslav Janacek from Czech Republic. It was the first time for them to compete on ice and snow. "This was great, a fantastic experience. We bought very good studded tires with which we could run like in sand or gravel" told us co-driver Miloslav Janacek. The crew remained among the top crews, they hold the second position with their Pajero for a long time. Until the moments of big fright: "In a corner we started to spin, left the track and landed luckily between the trees in a bush. But everything was OK and we could finish the day without problems."

There were some anxious moments also towards the end of the stage: on the last kilometres Russian Alexander Filippov and Sergey Shatinskiy rolled their car heavily but neither of them suffered any injuries. Unlike thier car: the Toyota Landcruiser was damaged seriously.

The detailed results list was not yet available early evening, because there were some problems with the classification. The rally is a candidate event for the Baja Cup for the first time this year, and the adaptation to the many rules is not easy.

2008/02/19 | 18:58 CET | Editor: MR/Northern Forest Liveteam

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