Qatar’s Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah extended his lead in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies with a second-place finish in the Lotto Baja Poland yesterday. Al-Attiyah won the Prologue and yesterday’s last stage but could not overhaul local hero Krzysztof Holowczyc, also driving a Mini All4 Racing, for the top step of the podium.
The 2015 Dakar Rally champion has amassed 201 points from eight rounds of the FIA World Cup, with a 22-point advantage over the defending champion Vladimir Vasilyev of Russia.
“It wasn’t an easy rally, but obviously we’re really happy. Second place is very good in terms of the FIA World Cup standings. I would like to congratulate Krzysztof, he drove really well. I wish to take part in this rally next year too,” al-Attiyah said.
Holowczyc won Baja Poland for the second time in a row and fifth in his career. The Polish driver, who also made it to the Dakar podium earlier this year, announced his retirement from cross-country rally after a decade-long career.
Lotto Rally Team driver, who won two out of five stages along with his co-driver Lukasz Kurzeja, took the rally lead during the first running of nearly 150-kilometer long stage held at the military training ground in Drawsko Pomorskie.
“It all went really well for us. Always up until the last moment you never know what is going to happen, but a few corners away from the finish line we know that we have won the rally. We didn’t put a wheel wrong over the course of the rally and we managed to keep some big names behind. Nasser arrived here very tired and that played a role for sure. I managed to maintain the gap even though he tried to push. Winning in front of your home crowd is something special. My co-driver was making his cross-country debut, but we worked really well together,” Holowczyc said.
The podium was completed by a Dutch-Belgian pairing of Bernhard Ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul (Toyota Hilux Overdrive).
Making his comeback after a back injury, Martin Kaczmarski ended up just outside the podium. Former motorcycle rider Marek Dabrowski (Toyota Hilux Overdrive) finished fifth, while Vasilyev, coming back from a two-month layoff following a heart procedure, was a bit rusty and could only manage a sixth place finish.
Another two-wheel specialist Jakub Przygonski (MINI All4 Racing), who was making his off-road car debut, finished seventh ahead of Adam Małysz (MINI All4 Racing), Miroslav Zapletal (H3 Evo) and Paweł Molgo (Toyota Hilux Overdrive).
In the T2 category, Jarosław Kazberuk and Robin Szustkowski (Ford Raptor), representing Lotto School of Champions, had an impressive run, taking the lead after the first running of the stage “Poligon Drawsko”. On Sunday the duo, due to a technical failure, lost their T2-category lead, however they were fastest on the final test. Eventually the victory in T2 went to Denis Berezovskiy / Ignat Falkov (Nissan Patrol Y62) of Kazakhstan. Klaudia Podkalicka (Mitsubishi Pajero) did a good job and finally ended second in the T2 category. T3 was won by, known from traditional rallying, Aron Domzala and Szymon Gospodarczyk.