Cross-Country Bajas - Krzysztof Hołowczyc and Lukasz Kurzeja confirm FIA European Baja Cup titles with victory in Baja Troia Turkey


The Polish duo of Krzysztof Holowczyc and Lukasz Kurzeja confirmed the Drivers’ and Co-drivers’ Championships in the 2023 FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas with a comfortable victory in Baja Troia Turkey.

With the Poles starting the Turkish event with 69 points from victories in Greece and Hungary, only Ghislain de Mevius and Johan Jalet could stop them from snatching the two titles. The Belgians had a six-point lead but that included points amassed from four events and they would have to drop two scores from five. Tiago Reis and outgoing champion João Ferreira could have mathematically upset the applecart but neither of the Portuguese drivers entered the event in Turkey.

The contest was all but settled in Holowczyc’s favour as early as the first of two passes through the modified opening 100.95km Akhileus stage on Saturday morning when every car except for the Pole’s BMW X3 took the wrong route at a junction and Kurzeja insisted that Holowczyc should pass in the opposite direction. A 26-minute time penalty was then awarded to each of the other 12 cars that finished the stage and gave the Pole a massive advantage.

Holowczyc said: “On the first stage there was some plastic bent when the road will show turn left. Of course, I will go straight, my co-driver shouting, reverse, reverse you must turn left. We go back, I turn on this place and it looks that only us make a good road on the stage. My co-driver is a winner. We gain a lot here. It was then a case of conserving the car and taking no risks to get the win.”

De Mevius and Jalet eventually finished second overall in their G Rally Team OT3 and clinched victory in the FIA T3 category. Three third places and a category win in Hungary had given De Mevius an 11-point lead over João Dias in the FIA European Baja Cup’s T3 section on paper. But only three scores counted towards the championship and Dias did not need to make the trip to western Turkey. The Portuguese had already confirmed the T3 Championship with two wins and a second place.

With Holowczyc noticeably easing his pace on the second pass of a stage that had claimed Adam Kuś’s Can-Am with a wheel loss in the morning, De Mevius earned the win on SS2 from Michal Maluszyński (Mini JCW Rally) and Holowczyc, who also sustained two flat tyres on the track.

Two runs through a 113.49km stage rounded off proceedings on Sunday. Amerigo Ventura beat De Mevius to the fastest time by 13 seconds on the opener, with Holowczyc a cautious sixth - 4min 14sec off the pace - and Maluszyński suffering technical issues. De Mevius was again quickest on the final stage by nearly three minutes to snatch second overall but Holowczyc held on to claim outright victory by the margin of 12min 41.1sec.

European Baja T4 title for Navarro; Ventura wins in Turkey

Amerigo Ventura had actually been quickest on the opening stage in his Quaddy Racing Yamaha YXZ 1000R before time penalties were imposed and he and co-driver Mirko Brun went on to finish first in T4 and third overall, a mere eight seconds behind De Mevius after the Belgian passed him on the final stage.

Ventura said: “The last stage was very rough and we pushed to our limit while thinking not to destroy the car on the rocky surface. We made a good result. We had two first places in Hungary and here but we retired while leading in Spain, we were also leading in Portugal before we had problems with the cooling system and in Greece, it was a hard one for us, because we led overall at the end of the rally and at the podium but the final verifications (scrutineering exclusion) took our trophy by one millimetre!”

Fidel Castillo arrived at the final round with a five-point lead over young Pau Navarro and a 14-point cushion over Miguel Angel Valero in the FIA T4 section. But Castillo and co-driver Marc Solá lost time with two flat tyres on their Ahuja Racing Can-Am on the first stage and slipped behind Navarro.

As the race progressed Navarro secured a grip on the FIA European Baja Cup’s T4 title in his FN Speed Team Can-Am and finished fourth overall, over eight minutes clear of fifth-placed Castillo, who was classified third in T4. Angel Valero and co-driver Jacqueline Ricci retired from a potential fifth place on the final stage.

Fernando Alvarez and Xavier Panseri were second in T3 and seventh overall in their G Rally Team OT3. That was enough to confirm third for the Spaniard in the T3 Championship.

The absence of Portugal’s Fernando Barreiros from the starting list ensured that Italy’s Alessandro Bellini Trivini secured European Baja Cup glory in the FIA T2 category for series production cross-country machines. Both drivers had taken a pair of wins and two second places apiece prior to the final round and Trivini had a six-point cushion before the event started. He finished ninth overall in Turkey.

The first Baja Troia Turkey to be included in the FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas attracted 14 starters, with two cars competing in the T1 category, one in T2 for series production cars, three in T3 for lightweight prototype cross-country machines and eight taking part in the FIA T4 section.

The event was based in the seaport city of Çanakkale, formerly known as Dardanelles, located around 300km southwest of Istanbul. It was fought out over two days, with two runs through a stage between Akhileus and Dumrek on the timetable for Saturday. From the village of Denízgöründü, Sunday’s action featured two passes over tracks between Hektor and Serçiler.

Baja Troia Turkey – result:

1. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Lukasz Kurzeja (POL) BMW X3 (T1)                                      6hr 45min 23.1sec

2. Ghislain de Mevius (BEL)/Johan Jalet (BEL) G Rally Team OT3 (T3)                                6hr 58min 04.2sec

3. Amerigo Ventura (ITA)/Mirko Brun (ITA) Yamaha YXZ 1000 R (T4)                                6hr 58min 12.2sec

4. Pau Navarro (ESP)/Pol Ros (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR (T4)                          7hr 03min 58.6sec

5. Fidel Castillo Ruiz (ESP)/Marc Solá (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR (T4)             7hr 12min 00.9ec

6. Israfil Akyüz (TUR)/Mert Tepe (TUR) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR (T4)                   7hr 14min 19.4sec

7. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) G Rally Team OT3 (T3)                             7hr 21min 13.6sec

8. Mert Becce (TUR)/Sertaç Tatar (TUR) Yamaha YXZ 1000 R (T4)                                      7hr 45min 50.3sec

9. Alessandro Trivino Bellini (ITA)/Marco Trivini Bellini (ITA) Mitsubishi Pajero (T2)         7hr 59min 11.5sec

10. Eylem Tekin Erişti (TUR)/Ejder Tekin Erişti (TUR) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4)    9hr 37min 08.5sec

11. Adam Kuś (POL)/Marcin Pasek (POL) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3)                                                     12hr 04min 12.6sec

Miguel Angel Valero (ESP)/Jacqueline Ricci (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4)         RETIRED

Michal Maluszyński (POL)/Julita Maluszyńska (POL) Mini JCW Rally Plus                           RETIRED

Yağic Birinci (TUR)/Ali Emre Yilmaz (TUR) Yamaha YXZ 1000 R (T4)                                                      RETIRED