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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: Leonid Novitsky wins Russian Winter Baja.

Last year the former factory Mitsubishi did not had too much luck - but this year Leonid Novitsky could finally show what is in the orange-red Ex-Mitsubishi workcar. He and his co-driver Oleg Tyupenkin won the 6. Baja Northern Forest Baja with their Mitsubishi L200 Strakar in front of their compatriots Ruslan Misikov (Nissan Navara) and Aleksey Berkut (Mitsubishi Pajero Evo). As best international crew arrived Miroslav Zapletal and Miloslav Janacek (Czech Republic, Mitsubishi Pajero) on the fourth place.

The last specials on Sunday was not easy for the crews - they had to compete on the same 84 km track as yesterday but in the opposite direction and all the day it was snowing heavily. At the end, Novitsky had only 5:20 minutes advantage to Ruslan Misikov, and Aleksey Berkut followed only 17 seconds (!) later. Above all Berkut risked a lot - after rolling his Pajero yesterday, on Sunday he hit a tree and damaged the front part of his car. Ruslan Misikov’s hand were still shaking after the finish: "Today’s stage was extremely fast. This was one of the fastest races I ever took part in, the trees seemed just flying by."

With a gap of 7:57 minutes, Miroslav Zapletal and Miloslav Janacek from Czech Republic (Mitsubishi Pajero) were the best international participants. They just missed the podium, but their performance is still remarkable. They raced on snow and ice for the very first time. "This was a brand new experience for us" - said Miloslav Janacek. "We are happy with our result. This was our first time in Russia and the first time racing with studded tires on snow and ice. This was easier than we expected, but the Russian teams simply have more experience. At the beginning we tried to go with the top teams just to see how they drive. Then it became better round by round."

The two French Bowler crews had less luck, they couldn’t really adapt themselves to the unusual conditions. Jean-Pierre Ducroux was out yesterday in the first round with transmission problems. After some reparations he could re-start today morning, but he and the second Bowler of Guillaume Balloy eventually had problems with the white-ground, were driving slowly and arrived on the last two places overall.

Most of the participants pushed today heavily to the limit. Usually it’s nothing special - but the tracks of the Northern Forest Baja are many times more dangerous than those of the other Bajas. 90 percent of the rally was run in thick forest, the trees in some passages were just less then 30 centimeters away from the cars - on both sides. One second of inattention, only one unnoticed bump, only a small bad drift can lead to a catastrophe. But this was no reason especially for the leaders to drive with more than 160 km/h through the trees.

How a car can look after running off the track at 120 km/h in thick forest, was shown today by the Toyota Prado Team of the Russian Viktor Volikov. In a corner the Toyota started to spin, hit a tree first with the left side then spun on the other side and hit a second tree, this time with the right side. The result: A totally damaged car with the rear bridge completely broken. Thank to the rollcage, the driver and the co-driver wasn’t injured.

On Sunday night the Nothern Forest Baja will end with an official prizegiving followed by a wild party until morning. At the beginning of next week we will prepare a complete summary of the event.

2008/02/24 | 15:02 CET | Editor: MR/Northern Forest Liveteam

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