Przygonski & Gottschalk storm to victory in the Dubai International Baja, the second round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

Przygonski & Gottschalk storm to victory in the Dubai International Baja, the second round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas

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Jakub Przygonski, defending champion in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, has powered to a second consecutive victory on the Dubai International Rally, the second round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas. He and co-driver Timo Gottschalk claimed second fastest time in both of the event’s long selective sections to take their first win of the season by one minute 10 seconds. The UAE’s Khalid Al Qassimi navigated by Frenchman Xavier Panseri finished second with Martin Prokop and David Kripal third.

The event kicked off on Thursday evening at the Dubai Autodrome when the 34 cars were flagged across the start. On Friday 8 and Saturday 9 March the crews then headed into the dunes and salt flats of the Al Qudra desert for two different selective sections, the first covering 201.60 kilometres and the second one today totalling 204.93 kilometres.

Przygonski, who also claimed victory last year, was second fastest through the event’s opening stage, keeping himself in contention in the soft dunes despite having to stop and change a wheel. Another consistent performance on Saturday’s longest section saw the Polish driver - who was competing in the Mini John Cooper Works Buggy for the first time - claim second through the stage amid a huge battle with Al Qassimi. “We had a plan to push from the go and attack to the maximum level,” he said. “We caught Al Qassimi at the 150 kilometre mark and then we both stuck to each other. For 10 kilometres we were chasing each other, jumping the dunes. I lost about two minutes when we got stuck, but pushed through and jumped through the dunes to the finish. I’m really happy and enjoyed it so much.”

Al Qassimi grabbed the early advantage in the first leg, the Emirati taking a 48 second lead over Przygonski despite a suspension problem early in the section that forced him to measure his pace for nearly 170 kilometres of the stage. At the end of the event, he said: “This was a pretty tiring stage from the beginning and Przygonski was really pushing to get past us so we had to keep a good pace. It's always tough to be the first out as you are making the tracks and have nothing to follow.”

Prokop was another consistent performer and the Czech driver took third on both sections to finish in the same position in his Ford Raptor RS Cross Country. “We had a big jostle with Vasilyev, overtaking many times and really pushing each other. We’re really happy to make the podium. It’s great that two groups were fighting for those positions. It made the end of the stage really exciting.”

Victory in Dubai continues to elude Vladimir Vasilyev and navigator Konstantin Zhiltsov, the Russians two and a half minutes off the podium in fourth position. They did however set the pace on the second selective section, winning the stage by over two and a half minutes. “We managed to overtake Martin [Prokop] and then played a game of catch up, each overtaking each other, every time pushing each other. We had a small problem with the right hand front wheel drive shaft but not too bad. It was a much more interesting day than yesterday with a good combination of dunes and twists. We’re happy.”

Lithuania’s Benediktas Vanagas took fifth in the Toyota Hilux with Miroslav Zapletal rounding out the top six.

Russia’s Alexander Baranenko took the win in the T2 category in his Toyota Landcruiser while the T3 victory was claimed by Qatar’s Adel Abdulla in a Can Am Maverick. “It was a tough stage and we did our best yesterday to get our five minute lead [in the T3 category]” said Abdulla. “But we had to keep pushing today and not slow down because that's when you can make mistakes. We would like to thank our team and the organisers for such a good race.”

The third round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas takes the contenders to Europe for the Italian Baja on 20-23 June.

Dubai International Baja - Final classification


Jakub Przygonski/Timo Gottschalk

Mini John Cooper Works Buggy

5hr 15min 10.0sec


Khalid Al Qassimi/Xavier Panseri

Peugeot 3008 DKR

5hr 16min 20.0sec


Martin Prokop/David Kripal

Ford Raptor RS Cross Country

5hr 18min 22.0sec


Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov

Toyota Hilux Overdrive

5hr 20min 52.0sec


Benediktas Vanagas/Bartlomiej Boba

Toyota Hilux

5hr 38min 56.0sec


Miroslav Zapletal/Marek Sykora

F150 EVO

5hr 39min 16.0sec


N Andrey/N Vladimir

G-Force Bars

5hr 45min 21.0sec


Martin Kaczmarski/Tapio Suominen

Toyota Hilux Overdrive

5hr 49min 31.0sec


Mark Powell/Chloe Jones

Fast & Speed Buggy

5hr 49min 46.0sec


Abdulla Al Qassimi/Steve Lancaster

Toyota Hilux

5hr 52min 23.0sec