Overdrive Racing’s trio of Toyota Hiluxes completed the gruelling Baja Spain Aragon, round six of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, in fourth, eighth and ninth overall.
The Brazilian pairing of Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin led the way for the Belgium-based team with a solid fourth overall. The Team Orlen duo of Marek Dabrowski and Jacek Czachor reached the finish in eighth in the second of the V8-powered Toyotas.
Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi teamed up with French navigator Edouard Boulanger for his second outing with Overdrive Racing and overcame co-driver sickness to reach the finish in Teruel in ninth position after climbing three places with an impressive run through the final stage.
The retirement of Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah on the second of Saturday’s special stages meant that status quo remains at the top of the points’ standings for the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, after Vladimir Vasilyev was forced to miss out on competing after undergoing a heart procedure. The Russian Toyota driver maintains a 21-point lead in the title race.
“It was not an easy weekend and the technical regulations as they are make it even more difficult,” said Overdrive team director Jean-Marc Fortin. “But Reinaldo drove a very professional race and his speed over some of the technical sections was impressive. Sheikh Khalid also drove very well on his first ever Baja and reached the finish without problems. It was a good learning rally for him and that bodes well for the future.
“Results elsewhere maybe went our way as well and Vladimir (Vasilyev) still holds a good lead in the championship, so we are still very much in the game heading to Hungary for the next round.”
French driver Romain Vozniak and his French former enduro riding co-driver Jean Brucy failed to start in the fourth of the Overdrive Racing Toyota Hiluxes.
Al-Attiyah set the target time of 4min 04.1sec through the 5.060km super special stage on Friday night. Al-Qassimi slotted into seventh place with a time of 4min 21.4sec and Toyota colleagues Dabrowski and Varela were 10th and 13th.
Joan Roma set the fastest time through the second selective section of 152.22km between Calamocha and Calatayud on Saturday morning and gained the outright lead, but drivers running further behind in the stage struggled in dusty conditions and poor visibility. Varela carded the sixth quickest time for Overdrive Racing and climbed to a similar position in the overall rankings.
Dabrowski and Al-Qassimi set the 10th and 15th fastest times and held ninth and 14th in the general classification heading to the second of the day’s specials – a gruelling 305.56km from Calatayud to Teruel.
Roma posted the target time of 4hrs 11min 44sec, but Varela was also in form and the fourth quickest time lifted the Brazilian into a similar position in the overall standings. Dabrowski and Al-Qassimi were classified in 11th and 13th at the stage finish and held seventh and 12th overall.
The competitive action concluded with a selective section of 181.11km between Calamocha and Teruel on Sunday morning and a storming performance by Al-Qassimi lifted the Emirati from 12th to ninth overall. Varela and Dabrowski stayed out of trouble through the closing kilometres to finish fourth and eighth.
2015 Baja Spain Aragon – final positions (unofficial):
1. Joan Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro (ESP) Mini All4 Racing 8hr 41min 41sec
2 Orlando Terranova (ARG)/Bernardo Graue (ARG) Mini All4 Racing 8hr 44min 38sec
3. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Michel Périn (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 8hr 45min 01sec
4. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 9hr 05min 34sec
5. Ricardo Leal Dos Santos (POR)/Mykel Justo (BRA) Nissan Navara 9hr 06min 16se
6. Erik van Loon (NED)/Wouter Rosegaar (NED) Mini All4 Racing 9hr 07min 12sec
7. Alejandro Martins (PRT) /Jose Marques (PRT) Toyota Hilux 9hr 16min 32sec
8. Marek Dabrowski (POL)/Jacek Czachor (POL) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 9hr 17min 49sec
9. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Edouard Boulanger (FRA) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 9hr 19min 07sec
10. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Maciej Marton (POL) Hummer H3 9hr 22min 27sec