A fiercely fought 38th edition of the Baja España Aragón ended with a familiar face on top of the podium as Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) claimed his fifth title at the event. Elsewhere in the convoy, local favourites Dani Sordo (ESP) and Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP) impressed the crowd by parking their T3 machines inside the overall Top 10.
In the T1 car category it was another display of speed and style from reigning Dakar Rally champion Al-Attiyah. Along with co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA), Al-Attiyah took his Toyota GR DKR Hilux to victory on the opening two stages in Spain. While in control of the general classification, Al-Attiyah and Baumel scored a podium finish on the third and final stage on Sunday to wrap up their latest win at this race.
« It was not easy to win, we had to work hard. The road was not easy and the level we needed to be at here was very high. » – Nasser Al-Attiyah
WRC stalwart Dani Sordo continued his rapid rally-raid education in his native Spain. Racing a Can-Am Maverick X3 as part of Al-Attiyah’s T3 category team, Sordo was on the pace all weekend. The Spaniard set the fastest time of all the 36 T3 machines entered into the race during Saturday’s second stage. Alongside co-driver Candido Carrera (ESP), Sordo finished second overall in the T3 category and eighth in the combined standings with the T1 cars.
« We are happy with the experience we’ve gained in this discipline and to have ran this legendary race. » – Dani Sordo
Finishing one place behind Sordo in the T3 rankings – and as 10th fastest overall – was fellow Spaniard Cristina Gutiérrez. Back alongside co-driver Pablo Moreno (ESP) there was a weekend of progression in the OT3 which ended with third place overall in the T3. It’s yet another podium result for Gutiérrez as she continues to build on last year’s FIA World Cup for the Cross-Country Rallies title.
« It has been a very nice weekend. I celebrated my birthday while racing and getting P3 in T3 and P10 of the overall. We always felt very comfortable and with a good rhythm. » – Cristina Gutiérrez
There was a very strong finish to the weekend for Guillaume De Mevius (BEL) and co-driver François Cazalet (FRA) in their own OT3. A T3 stage win on the third and final stage in Spain also placed them fifth overall for that section of the race.
Catie Munnings (GBR) also saved the best for last as she and co-driver Szymon Gospodarczyk (POL) finished P5 in the T4 category on Sunday’s ultimate stage in Spain. The result saw Munnings finish seventh in the T4 standings at only her second cross-country rally.
« The dust was real today and we were slowed from low visibility from the cars ahead, but it was a lot more enjoyable to be able to push more on most parts. » – Catie Munnings
Baja España Aragón Top 10 Overall
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota 7:20:43
2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Toyota 7:23:45
3. Lucas Moraes (BRA)/Kaique Bentivoglio (BRA) Toyota 7:26:09
4. Daniel Alonso (ESP)/Alejandro Lopez (ESP) Ford 7:45:53
5. Luis Recuenco (ESP)/Sergio Peinado (ESP) Mini 7:49:03
6. João Días (PRT)/João Miranda (PRT) Can-Am (T3) 7:55:50
7. Santiago Carnicer (ESP)/Miguel Lazaro (ESP) Ford 7:57:46
8. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Candido Carrera (ESP) Can-Am (T3) 7:58:03
9. Alejandro Martins (PRT)/José Marques (PRT) Mini 7:58:56
10. Cristina Gutierrez (ESP)/Pablo Moreno (ESP) OT3 (T3) 8:00:13
Nasser Al-Attiyah: « We’ve finished and I am quite happy to win here for the fifth time. It was a good win this year. Thanks to the organisation for making an amazing job. It was not easy to win, we had to work hard. The road was not easy and the level we needed to be at here was very high. This was the first time we run the T1+ car here in Europe. We need to test more and more now that the team has decided to do the whole championship. The next race for us is Poland, but we intend to be ready for next Dakar. »
Dani Sordo: « P2 at the Baja! On the final stage we had a puncture and lost a bit of time. In the end, we are happy with the experience we’ve gained in this discipline and to have ran this legendary race. »
Cristina Gutiérrez: “It has been a very nice weekend. I celebrated my birthday while racing and getting P3 in T3 and P10 of the overall. We always felt very comfortable and with a good rhythm. Thanks to my co-driver Pablo Moreno. Sharing the race with Dani Sordo was very exciting, I hope it’s the first of many. »
François Cazalet: « We ended the race with a positive result, fifth overall and with the best T3 time. It’s our first race together and we showed a lot of promise. Congratulations to Cristina and Pablo for getting third place in T3, proud of you. »
Catie Munnings: « A better day for us to finish the race, we finished 1m 30s on the two hour long stage behind the fastest guy in our class (P5/21). The dust was real today and we were slowed from low visibility from the cars ahead, but it was a lot more enjoyable to be able to push more on most parts. My second cross-country rally World Cup, we finish seventh overall. »
Photos : Red Bull, Jean-Michel Blazquez, Arnaud et Lucas Delmas-Marsalet