Overdrive Racing’s Vladimir Vasilyev now finds himself embroiled in a four-way fight for the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas title after finishing fifth overall in Spain’s Baja Aragón, round four of the series.
The Russian and co-driver Konstantin Zhiltsov came into the weekend’s racing across rural tracks in central Spain with a 20-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship in their Toyota Hilux.
However, a second win of the season for Argentina’s Orlando Terranova means that the two drivers are now separated by an unofficial two points heading into the last four rounds of the season in Hungary, Poland, Jordan and Portugal, with rivals Martin Prokop and Jakub Przygonski leading the chasing pack in third place.
Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke and Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul crewed the second of the Overdrive Racing Toyota Hiluxes and set several impressive stage times in the intense heat and dust of a typical Spanish summer.
They were tied in fourth overall with Poland’s Przygonski heading into the final selective section but Ten Brinke lost 15 minutes in the first section of the special with a hub failure and was forced to retire.
« It was disappointing for us, » said navigator Colsoul. « The wheel hub broke. It is such a shame because, at km 30, we were running 40 seconds faster than the rest and had a podium in our grasp. »
The Spanish duo of adventurer Jesus Calleja and co-driver Fernando Lopez retired a third Overdrive Racing-prepared Toyota Hilux in Sunday’s opening stage.
The first of the weekend’s four selective sections was a run through a 164.78km stage on Friday morning. With temperatures already into the thirties and dust creating its usual problems with visibility, Joan Roma posted the fastest time of 1hr 12min 24sec to take the virtual stage lead from Ten Brinke through the checkpoint at 95.57km and the former Dakar winner held on to claim third on the stage behind Terranova and Przygonski.
Ten Brinke and Vasilyev were running fifth and seventh through the checkpoint at 131.88km in the two Overdrive Racing Toyotas and they went on to complete the special in fifth and seventh positions.
The shorter second stage of 86.74km ran in the heat of the afternoon and Ten Brinke and Vasilyev recorded the second and seventh fastest times with Terranova claiming the stage win and a 3min 17sec overnight lead over Martin Prokop. Ten Brinke and Vasilyev returned to Teruel in fifth and seventh overall.
Terranova extended his lead over Prokop to 4min 33sec through the repeat of the shorter stage on Sunday morning, where Ten Brinke clocked the second quickest time and tied for fourth overall with Przygonski. Vasilyev was sixth and retained seventh in the general classification.
The repeat of Saturday’s longer stage would decide the podium positions and both Terranova and Prokop tied to the second after 164.78km of racing with the former confirming his second win of the year.
The second fastest time enabled Przygonski to move into third position behind stage winner Roma. Delays for João Ramos lifted Vasilyev into fifth place and gave the Russian two additional championship points, as Ten Brinke was forced out with his early hub issue.
Action in the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas resumes with the Hungarian Baja in August.
2019 Baja Spain Aragón – positions after SS4
1. Orlando Terranova (ARG)/Ronnie Graue (ARG) MINI John Cooper Works Rally, 6hrs 21min 40sec
2. Joan Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro (ESP) MINI All4 Racing, 6hrs 25min 16sec
3. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) MINI John Cooper Works Rally, 6hrs 25min 52sec
4. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford Raptor RS Cross-Country, 6hrs 27min 13sec
5. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 6hrs 33min 57sec
6. João Ramos (PRT)/Victor Jesus (PRT) Toyoya Hilux, 6hrs 38min 09sec…
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas – standings after round 4
1. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS), 62 points ; 2. Orlando Terranova (ARG), 60 pts ; 3. Martin Prokop (CZE), 46 pts ; 3. Jakub Przygonski (POL), 46 pts ; 5. Tapio Lauronen (FIN), 30 pts…