Cross-Country – Final showdown in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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Cross-Country – Final showdown in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas

10.12.20

Saudi Arabia is set to host the concluding two rounds of the 2020 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, with two newly introduced back-to-back events marking the Kingdom’s return to the FIA international cross-country calendar.

Baja Hail I, the fourth of five rounds of the revised calendar, takes place between December 10-12 and has attracted a bumper entry in all four FIA categories. After three previous rounds, just 1.5 points separate first and second in the overall classification and, with a host of contenders drawn to the Kingdom ahead of January’s Dakar Rally, the fight for the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas title across the deserts of north-central Saudi Arabia remains wide open.

Bernhard Ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul currently head the World Cup standings with two wins to their name. They return to action in their Toyota Hilux Overdrive but need to maintain momentum to claim a maiden title with Vladimir Vasilyev a mere 1.5 points adrift. The Russian, navigated by Dmytro Tsyro, took a home win on the opening round and will be competing in a MINI John Cooper Works Rally.

Stéphane Peterhansel, the reigning champion of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, will be partnered by Edouard Boulanger in the two-wheel drive John Cooper Works Buggy. His X-Raid team-mate is multiple champion across world rallying, cross-country rallying and the Dakar, Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard, with regular co-driver Lucas Cruz alongside him, claimed victory on the inaugural Dakar Rally in the Kingdom earlier this year and will doubtless be hoping for similar success.  Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel also have a host of titles to their names and will be fielding the official Toyota GAZOO Racing Hilux entry.

Hopes of a home victory will be resting on the shoulders of Yazeed Al-Rajhi, the Saudi Arabian driver having won on his own soil multiple times. Al-Rajhi also claimed fourth overall on his home Dakar Rally earlier this year and will be navigated by Germany’s Dirk Von Zitzewitz on this occasion. Regular contenders Martin Prokop and Viktor Chytka are back in action in their Raptor RS Cross Country, while Jakub Przygonski and Timo Gottschalk - the newly crowned Polish cross-country champions - will be looking to close the season on a high, having narrowly missed out on last year’s World Cup title. They will be in a Hilux Overdrive, as will Erik Van Loon and Sébastien Delaunay.

Yasir Hamad Seaidan is another Saudi Arabian driver who will be looking for top honours. He and Russian Alexey Kuzmich will be fielding a CR6 on their home round of the series. The Russian crew of Denis Krotov/Konstantin Zhiltsov will be in an older specification MINI All 4 Racing with regular competitors Miroslav Zapletal and Marek Sykora in an F150 EVO.

In the fight for the driver’s title in T3, Vasily Gryazin, co-driven by Oleg Uperenko, currently leads the category courtesy of a first and second position earlier in the season. With a number of their closest rivals not competing in Saudi Arabia, the Russian/Latvian pairing will be keeping an eye on the progress of Guillaume De Mévius/Martijn Wydaeghe who won last time out in Portugal and have a mathematical chance of overhauling them in the tight battle.

In T4 Aron Domzala holds the advantage, he and Maciej Marton having claimed victory in Poland and Portugal in their Can-Am Maverick. Kees Koolen is however within striking distance and the title will be decided between the two rivals. The T2 category is exclusively made up of Saudi Arabian drivers, all but one in Nissan Patrols.

The first of these two consecutive bajas will run over two days with one selective section per day covering a total of 527.35 competitive kilometres.

BAJA HAIL I - PROVISIONAL RALLY DATA

Total distance:

627.35 km

Selective section distance:

527.35 km

Number of selective sections:

2

 

TIMETABLE & MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES

Thursday December 10

 

Scrutineering

From 08:00 hrs

Start Ceremony

16:00 hrs

Pre-event Press Conference

20:00 hrs

 

Friday December 11

 

Start of SS1 (251.81 km)

08:58 hrs

First car arrives at the bivouac

12:51 hrs

 

Saturday November 12

 

Start of SS2 (275.54 km)

09:00 hrs

First car arrives at the bivouac

13:17 hrs

Post event press conference

18:00 hrs