DUBAI’S DESERT AND DUNES AWAIT CONTENDERS IN THE FIA WORLD CUP FOR CROSS COUNTRY BAJAS | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

DUBAI’S DESERT AND DUNES AWAIT CONTENDERS IN THE FIA WORLD CUP FOR CROSS COUNTRY BAJAS

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05.03.19.

The second round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas takes the contenders to the Dubai International Baja (7-9 March) for spectacular action across the dunes and plains of the Al Qudra desert. The first of two consecutive events in the United Arab Emirates - the second being the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, a round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies - has attracted a strong field of 29 entrants in all four categories and is sure to provide close-fought action over two long days.

The challenge of the Dubai International Baja could not be more different to the opening round in Russia, the world’s only snow and ice Baja. In Dubai, warm 25o centigrade daytime temperatures will add to what is already an immense test for man and machinery and crews will need to prepare well to cope with the challenging dunes of the spectacular Al Qudra desert.

Familiar names top the FIA seeded entries and Khalid Al Qassimi will be flying the flag for the UAE. Partnered by Frenchman Xavier Panseri in the Peugeot 3008 DKR, Al Qassimi has won in Dubai three times, each occasion being when the event ran as the Dubai International Rally prior to being reformatted and included in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies in 2017. Twelve months ago his hopes of victory were dashed by first leg mechanical problems, doubly disappointing as he set the leg two pace.

Martin Prokop returns to cross country action in the Ford Raptor RS he powered to sixth overall in January’s Dakar Rally. The Czech and long-standing co-driver Jan Tománek took fourth in Dubai last year in a successful season that saw them finish the World Cup in podium positions.

Poland’s Jakub Przygonski, now co-driven by Timo Gottschalk, took a maiden win in Dubai in 2018 on route to his first World Cup title and the Pole will undoubtedly be hoping to match the hot pace he set on the Qatar Cross Country Rally a week ago. Victory has so far eluded Vladimir Vasilyev and navigator Konstantin Zhiltsov in Dubai and the Russians are sure to be pushing hard to take the top step of the podium after finishing second in 2018.

Miroslav Zapletal is back in action after finishing 10th in Qatar last week, albeit having amassed huge time penalties with mechanical problems, and Lithuanian Benediktas Vanagas returns in the Toyota Hilux he piloted to 11th overall on the Dakar. N Andrey, who finished fourth on Baja Russia, rounds out the top FIA priority drivers.

The Dubai Autodrome, the UAE’s first fully fledged integrated multi-purpose motor sport and entertainment facility, plays host to the event headquarters, bivouac and start ceremony on Thursday 7 March. From here, crews head into the desert on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 March for two different selective sections which have common start and finish locations and which total 406.53 competitive kilometres.

RALLY DATA

Total distance   

607.11 km

Selective section distance:

406.53 km

Number of selective sections:

2

 

DUBAI INTERNATIONAL BAJA – TIMETABLE & MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES

Wednesday 6 March

 

Pre-event Press Conference

13:00 hrs

 

Thursday 7 March

 

Scrutineering                  

From 07:30 hrs

Ceremonial Start, Dubai Autodrome

18:00 hrs

 

Friday 8 March – Leg 1

 

Start of SS1 (201.60 kilometres)

07:50 hrs

First car arrives bivouac              

Approx. 10:40 hrs

 

Saturday 9 March – Leg 2

 

Start of SS2 (204.93 kilometres)

09:25 hrs

First car arrives bivouac

Approx. 11:30 hrs

Finish of the rally

12:30 hrs

Ceremonial Finish, Dubai Autodrome

17:00 hrs