|Northern Forest: Russian Winter-Snow-Baja will return in February 2013.|
After probably watching what’s happening in the dunes and mountains of South America as the almighty Dakar makes its way through Peru, Chile and Argentina, in a few weeks it will be a completely different rally-raid scene.
No deserts or barren plateaus here in the home of Kamaz and G-Force, just a forest full of frozen snow. Welcome to rally-raid Russian style - the [ NORTHERN FOREST ] is back.
For two years the popular and unique Northern Forest Baja has been missing from the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas but now that is being put right.
The only winter event on the calendar is running as a candidate event this year with the aim of being reinstated in its rightful place in 2014. The event HQ will be in the ski resort of Igora north of St Petersburg and all the action will take place in the surrounding forests on the 15th and16th February 2013.
Talking about the return of the Northern Forest baja and about the plans for its future development, is the race' organizer and founder, head of the Nart-Time team, multiple Russian rally-raid champion Ruslan Misikov. We met him in airport, where he was returning from the historic "Rally Monte-Carlo".
MR: We have been waiting for the comeback of Northern Forest, and here it is! The question about why the race has returned might sound impolite, but nevertheless, why?
Ruslan Misikov: "It's Ok, I ran the event for six years trying to obtain the highest status of a World Cup event. And when it finally happened and the FIA was ready to include Northern Forest 2011 in the World Cup calendar, I wanted that someone would help me with organization and preparation of that race."
"I was hoping that with the level of our event so high there would be people willing to contribute to its organization financially. Unfortunately, such a desire wasn't to appear, and that's why I stopped there. I thought, why would I run a project if it is not interesting to anybody."
"However, less than 2 years after that there appeared people, surprisingly our fellow people from Saint-Petersburg, who asked us to resume organization of the event and to move it to the international level again. Thus, thanks to Vladimir Vasiljev and Alexander Terentiev, the race is now making its comeback to the calendar."
MR: In what capacity will you be returning to the race?
Ruslan Misikov: "Primarily as the organizer and spiritual leader as I'm often referred to. But hopefully I can make a competitive comeback as well. In any case, our Nart-Time team will be taking part in the event, and I'm planning to participate as a driver, too."
MR: What changes have been made to the Nothern Forest baja compared to the race of 2 years ago?
Ruslan Misikov: "Let it sound immodest, but practically nothing's changed, which is a good thing as the race deserved many high praises from participants. However, there's one complication. Because we had a two-year break, the FIA was not ready to include us in the World Cup calendar right away."
"Firstly, we have to run a candidate event. For this year's event we've approved with the Federation a single day itinerary concept so that we can test all our systems and obtain the full World Cup round status for next year. Thus, this season we're facing a schedule like that: the administrative checks and scrutineering conducted on Friday, with all three competition sections (laps) held on Saturday."
MR: Will Northern Forest run in extended itinerary next year?
Ruslan Misikov: "Yes, the 2014 event will be organized in accordance with all requirements of the World Cup. Baja events are run over three days, with two of them assigned exclusively for competition."
MR: So you're implying that you've got no doubt the race will be a part of the World Cup, don't you?
Ruslan Misikov: "Hopefully everything will go our way. A commission from the FIA has already visited us, and their observer Fred Gallagher inspected the route. So far he liked everything he's seen."
MR: And once again you put on your shoulders a bunch of responsibilities in organization issues...
Ruslan Misikov: "As usual, there are a lot of things to do, but for me the return of Northern Forest is big joy. It's pleasant to know that people are interested, that appeared those who are eager to support in organization."
"Of course, running such a project requires much effort, but I'm immensely glad that the race will be held. The icing on the cake was to share the joyful news with others when I received congratulation calls from almost all participants of the Russian championship after they had read the news that Northern Forest would be held again. It proves that the race is really worthy."
MR: In what phase are the route preparations right now?
Ruslan Misikov: "We've already done preliminary reconnaissance, and presently we are preparing a more detailed version of the road book. The first big snow fell not so long time ago and we cleaned the track for the first time so that the route and safety officers could be making final amendments to the road book now. Just ahead of the race we'll check it again and will submit to printing."
MR: Ruslan, it's not a secret that not only was it down to financial issues that Northern Forest's running was put on hold, but the fact you decided to pay more attention to family also played its role. Could you please share how life in your family is going?
Ruslan Misikov: "Yes, you could say I was on maternity leave. Previously I didn't know what it feels like being a father, but it turned out to be so cool. My daughter is 2,5 years old, and she is the most amazing what I have in my life. Neither victories nor even racing titles can compare with the title of father. The only thing in common is that just like winning the Russian Championship title, I want to be a "multiple" father."
For more informations please visit the official website at [ NORTHERN-FOREST.COM ]
2013/01/23 | 13:37 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PRITCHARD/NF