by Rita Konya –
Polish, Hungarian and Czech crews have always played an important role in Italian Baja. The podium was swept by them with Poland’s Jakub Przygonski winning and Czech Republic’s Martin Prokop and Miroslav Zapletal taking second and third place. There are also those who start in Pordenone for the first time.
Now we can expect them to fight for top positions both in their categories and overall. Jakub Przygonski returns with his new co-driver Timo Gottschalk in a Mini, aiming for winning Italian Baja for the third consecutive time.
One of those threatening his win can be Czech Republic’s Martin Prokop and Jan Tomanek, Pordenone arriving with their Ford nicknamed “Shrek” straight from the WRC round in Sardinia where they finished 15th last weekend. Miroslav, a Czech competitor, former Petr Hozak rally driver and his Rene Kilian co-driver are set to start in Italy for the first time.
Hungarian crews have been part of Italian Baja. Imre Varga, who used to be on the starting line every year for a long time, now returns after years of absence with his co-driver Jozsef Toma and their new car, the BMW X6RR. Pal Lonyai also has several participations under his belt together with Albert Horn in the Porsche Macan. Zoltan Garamvolgyi, who first started in Pordenone back in 1999, and his co-driver Antal Takacs have serious aims for good results in T3 category in their Yamaha Garilla.
Not less than seven Polish crews are competing in Italy for the first time, including runner-up in last year’s Polish Championship, Michal Maluszynski and Julita Maluszynska (Mini). In category TH, Jacek Sobon (Nissan) and Jaroslaw Andrzejewski (Toyota), being first and third currently in CEZ classification, in category T3 two brothers, Michal Goczal and Marek Goczal are set to get acquainted with the Italian tracks in a pair of Can -AMS. Last but not least, among SSVs, last year’s runner-up in the Polish Championship and current leader of the CEZ classification, Kamena Team’s Tomasz Bialkowski and Dariusz Baskiewicz (Can-Am) are preparing hard for the race:
“Before the next baja in Italy we feel strong mentally and in hardware. Lately, my life has consisted of two parts: long hours spent in PrzemPol garage with our Beast and traveling to European rallies. 200%, what is very expensive, because we replace seemingly good parts with new! Each rally is different, and each teaches us something else and shows our weaknesses. Thus, we’re waiting for a lesson on Italian tracks, because we haven’t been there yet!
Besides being the third round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, Italian Baja is the fourth round of the FIA Central European Cross-Country Rally Championship. This dairy is limited to the racers from the countries of the Central European region. CEZ competitors are racing in the categories T1, T2, T3, T4, TH, and as latest addition, SSV. In each category, the first ten crews receive points, 25 for the winner and 18 – 15 – 12 – 10 – 8 – 6 – 4 – 2 – 1 points for the rest of the top 10.