"Russia – Northern Forest 2017" Baja, the first round of the FIA World Cup and the Russian Championship in Cross-Country Rallies, continues in Karelia.

Heavy snowfalls in the past two days made the track varied and very interesting for racers: broad flat graders rotated with narrow forest sections with loose snow and deep wheel track.

Many crews have made mistakes: Qatari Abdulla Adel Hussain and experienced Latvian racer Aldis Vilcans hit the marbles; the French crew of Jean-Paul Van Bohemen rolled over; Andrey Rudskoy, the winner of the Republic of Karelia Head Cup, finish a special stage with a detached door.

There also were some technical issues: in the morning a problem with the ignition system (it was about -15 degrees centigrade in Karelia at night) made it impossible to start for the Pole Marcin Lukaszewski; Alexander Potapov and Boris Gadasin, the world motorsport star from St. Petersburg, had engine troubles.

But difficulties does not stop, but only encourage the racers. It is hard to compete with the most experienced Finnish crews on the snow and ice track: by the results of Saturday’s 240 competitive  kilometers Finns were in the lead at each special stage of the day: both in the FIA World Cup – Tapio Lauronen, and in the Russian Championship – Jouni Ampuja.

However, at the end of the final Saturday special stage the FIA World Cup leader has arrived to the service park with a broken gearbox. The crew was not able to meet the time limit  and Toni Lauronen had to retire due to the technical problems.

Russian crew of Vladimir Vasilyev (G-Energy Team) becomes the race leader. Aron Domzala moves to  the second place, and Andrey Novikov claims for “bronze” in the world standings.

Jouni Ampuja, “It’s very nice to be here again! The roads and the weather are great – it’s a wonderland with lots of snow! In the morning I tried to follow the ruts and to get a grip but then I just kept going in a more aggressive style. To speak honestly, I’m now on the limit of speed of this car, I cannot go any faster. Tomorrow to get to the finish I have to push more!

Vladimir Vasilyev, “I really like all today’s track – it is beautiful, good, fine cleaned. Forest section was slippery, but there were jumps – three-dimensional excellent road!”

Tomorrow there will be another 180 competitive kilometers, and then the finish Podium ceremony in the central square of Vyartsilya.

UPDATE: Lukaszewsky (№27) was able to run his car engine and he will start tomorrow. Terentyev (#28), also put his car in Park Ferme and tomorrow will try to start. #34 and #21 - are returned the navigation devices and dropped out of the race

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Photo bajarussia.smugmug.com

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