Catalan Joan Roca clocked fastest time ont he prologue of the Italian Baja, season opener of the 2011 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup.
With Friday’s prologue Italian Baja, first round of the Cross-Country Rally World Cup has set off officially. Bit surprising, Catalan Joan Roca and Josep Ferrer (Mitsubishi L200) were the fastest in front of the SAM Mercedes of German Matthias Kahle and dr. Thomas Schünemann. Both cars were introduced last year so they are taking their first steps in the international field and this result is very promising to both teams. Even if, as Roca wrote, the big battle is still to be fought.
Matthias Kahle - dr. Thomas Schünemann
The real protagonists of the rally didn’t really shine on the 7 km warmup. Two times Baja Cup champion Russian Boris Gadasin (G-Force Proto) reached the finish line with the third fastest time after his engine stopped one time. His fellow countryman, reigning World Cup champion Leonid Novitskiy finished 5th behind the Peugeot 604 of Italian Valter Benazzato, while rally legend Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser grabbed the 9th spot.
Czech Miroslav Zapletal and Tomas Ourednicek (BMW X3CC), who returned after having to miss the whole 2010 season due to their serious injuries suffered at an accident at the 2010 Dakar Rally, hold the 6th place. “It was very difficult for us. We didn’t know the car at all, we had no time for testing. The track was very short and also slippery so I think 6th place is a good result for the first kilometres. The car is really fantastic, it has a great potential. As for us, everything is OK, we are happy to be able to race again, “ says co-driver Ourednicek.
Gadasin at the start
There were some accidents already at the prologue. “The track seemed to be a nice rally-like one but on both sides there were ditches. Many cars slipped in these – like us. I think, this can cause nasty surprises throughout the weekend, already today three or four cars crashed,” says Zoltán Garamvölgyi, driver of Nissan No. 241 and organiser of the 5th round of the World Cup, Hungarian Baja.