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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: Russian Baja starts with the Scrutineering.

With the Technical Scrutineerings, which took place in St. Petersburg’s "LenExpo" Exhibiton Ground, on Thursday the Russian "Northern Forest/St.Petersburg Baja" started officially. This year for the first time the race is a candidate event for the FIA International Baja Cup, so the scrutineers were especially strict this time.

As official observers the FFSA and FIA sent the French Marc Roy and Lionel Carré to Russia. While Marc Roy is well known as a cool-headed and beloved Observer, Lionel Carré is more known as one of the most strict FIA-Commissar and dreaded by the Rallydrivers. But in Russia Carré is also invited as an observer - and the participants respired. But not every car had to pass the detailed scrutineering, just like in the Hungarian Baja here there is also an amateur class - but only for Russian drivers.

The popularity of the rally increased since last year: 40 crews registered themselves for the event, which is organised only for cars. Unfortunately, there are not so many international competitors this year - maybe because of the season-opener "Hail Saudi Baja", which was too close in time.

Only two French Bowler teams and two Latvian teams (including Janis Naglis) arrived for the scrutineering, and - as "star guest" - the Czech crew of Miroslav Zapletal and Míla Janacek. In Russia the both Czech guys start with their "old" Diesel-powered Mitsubishi Pajero, because their new Mitsubishi L200 Strakar is on the way back from Saudi Arabia.

As for the Russian field, it is like a "who is who" of the Russian Rallyraid-"Celebrities". FIA International Baja Cup champion Boris Gadasin, who achieved a superb second place at the "Hail Saudi Baja" last week, starts with his white Nissan Navara - with which he won both the Baja Northern Forest and Italain Baja last year.

Former Russian champion Alexey Berkut will be at the starting line in a rebuilt Mitsubishi Pajero MPR7, an old factory car. Just like Leonid Novitsky, who starts with a Mitsubishi L200 Strakar, the 2005 Dakar car of the ex-workdriver Andrea Mayer. Last year Novitsky didn’t have too much luck at the snow rally: The engine of his Strakar broke down just before the prologue.

Konstantin Zhiltsov and his FIA Marathonrally Worldcup champion navigator Konstantin Meshcheryakov (ex co-driver of Sergey Shmakov) also starts with a Ralliart Mitshubishi Pajero, while Ruslan Misikov, head of the rally-organiser "Narttime Team" will drive a Nissan Navara built in South Africa and rented from the Belgian Overdrive Team.

There is a clear Mitsubishi dominance: About two thirds of the crews are taking part in the baja in a car wearing the three diamonds on its nose. Beside some Nissan there are also a number of T2 Toyota Landcruiser, Lada Niva, UAZ and the outside of Russia mostly unknown Chevrolet Niva.

The scrutineering went without any problems, all the cars passed the strict controls more or less problem free. The real race starts on Friday with a prologue then the crews will cover a 200 km transfer section towards the North, where the two long stages will take place on Saturday and Sunday.

2008/02/21 | 18:58 CET | Editor: MR/HS/RIK

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