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Cross Country – Baja Portalegre 500 victory secures title for Terranova & Graue

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The MINI John Cooper Works Rally crew of Orlando Terranova and Ronnie Graue claimed a maiden FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas title in fine style today by winning the final and title-deciding round, Baja Portalegre 500*. The Argentineans beat the 2018 winner, Nani Roma - this year co-driven by Dani Oliveras - by nearly three minutes with title hopefuls Jakub Przygoński and Timo Gottschalk dropping to third in the final section with a puncture.

Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov, Terranova and Przygoński went into this final event in a three-way fight for the crown, the rivals split by just three points in the championship standings. However, Vasilyev’s realistic hopes of claiming a second World Cup title lost traction in the third of the four selective sections with a broken driveshaft some 20 kilometres before the end of the 193 kilometre section. Having been towed to the finish, this dropped them from fifth to a distant 23rd. After repairs in service, the Russians powered on and finished 13th in the overall event classification, dropping them from first to third in the title standings. The battle therefore raged between the MINI crews of Terranova and Przygoński, the Argentinean’s one stage win giving him the final edge and a 16 point advantage over the Pole in the World Cup standings.

Baja Portalegre 500 kicked off on Friday with a short 4.66 kilometre super special stage, victory going to Portugal’s own Miguel Barbosa and Pedro Velosa. The Toyota crew maintained their advantage with another victory in the second section to increase their lead overnight, albeit to just under 30 seconds. Today, however, the crew dropped time off the route and Barbosa then further sacrificed any hopes of a fourth home victory by towing the stricken Vasilyev back to the sanctuary of service for much needed repairs.

Terranova and Graue, who have now notched up their fourth victory from six events, then powered ahead and into the lead, the crew winning SS3 by over 90 seconds to take an advantage of nearly four minutes over Przygoński into the final 191 kilometre section. Mindful of maintaining a competitive pace but staying out of trouble, Terranova and Graue were only fourth fastest in the final section, but crucially one place ahead of Przygoński: sufficient to secure the title.

Roma and Oliveras claimed the runner-up spot in only their second outing in the Borgward after debuting the car on the recent Rallye du Maroc. For Roma, it will have been another satisfying learning and shakedown test ahead of next year’s Dakar Rally.

After their fine victory on the penultimate round in Jordan, Przygonski and Gottschalk had put themselves firmly back in the title fight and pushed Terranova to the finish line. With four podium finishes, including two victories, already under their belt, unfortunately a puncture and third overall was just not enough to secure a second consecutive title for Przygonski.

Behind the leading trio, Portuguese honours were upheld by Helder Oliveira and Paulo Fiuza, the MINI All4 Racing crew finishing a fine fourth overall. By the end of the opening day of competition they held sixth but really came into the own today with two second fastest times. Another Borgward was also out on the stages in the hands of Ricardo Porém, the Portuguese a four-time winner of the event between 2014 and 2017. He and co-driving brother Manuel Porém bounced back from 20th overall after damaging the steering in SS2 to take an impressive final stage win. Fellow countrymen Tiago Reis/Valter Cardoso rounded out the top six in a Mitsubishi Lancer.

The T3 Trophy for Drivers was also secured on Baja Portalegre 500 after a season-long battle. Fedor Vorobyev went into the event with a 22 point advantage over Italy’s Michele Cinotto, courtesy of four victories in his Can-Am Maverick X3. The Russian, co-driven by Kirill Shubin, duly went on to claim his fifth category win to take the title*. The Trophy for T2 drivers had already provisionally been won by Latvia’s Aldis Vilcans, although the event victory was taken by João Ferreira/David Monteiro on Baja Portalegre 500.

* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA

Baja Portalegre 500 - Final Classification



Orlando Terranova/Ronnie Graue

Mini JCW Works Rally

5hr 39min 24sec


Nani Roma/Dani Oliveras

Borgward BX7 DKR Evo

5hr 42min 17sec


Jakub Przygoński/Timo Gottschalk

Mini JCW Works Rally

5hr 44min 07sec


Helder Oliveira/Paulo Fiuza

Mini All4 Racing

5hr 47min 08sec


Ricardo Porém /Manuel Porém

Borgward BX7 DKR Evo

5hr 52min 42sec


Tiago Reis/Valter Cardoso

Mitsubishi Lancer

5hr 55min 09sec


Alexandre Franco/Rui Franco

BMW Evo X1

5hr 56min 48sec


Gregoire de Mevius/Andre Leyh

Toyota Hilux Overdrive

5hr 57min 09sec


Nuno Madeira/Filipe Serra

Kia Sportage

6hr 00min 04sec


Nuno Matos/Joel Lutas

Fiat Fullback Proto

6hr 10min 55sec