Round 7 of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and the third round of the
Wysoka Grzęda Baja Poland (August 27-29), which is held in the Szczecin, Drawsko Pomorskie and Dobra municipalities, hosts the seventh round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and the third round of this year’s European Cup. The 13th Baja Poland will be as challenging as ever, with long military range sections on Saturday mixed with shorter sprint stages closer to the city of Szczecin on Sunday’s concluding day of competition.
With only three events remaining on the calendar, competition is intensifying and Baja Poland has attracted many of the main title contenders across the categories. Yasir Seaidan and Alexey Kuzmich continue to head the FIA World Cup standings with nothing but podium finishes throughout the season. They will be gunning for another top result in the MINI John Cooper Works Rally as the Saudi Arabian/Russian crew eye a maiden world title. Yazeed Al Rajhi and Michael Orr are however chasing hard and have closed the deficit to their rivals to 23 points with podium placings on their last two outings. Having narrowly lost out on victory on the last round in Hungary, when the result was decided by a tie-breaker, the Toyota Hilux Overdrive crew will be keen to bag maximum points in Poland to capitalise on momentum.
Poles Krzysztof Hołowczyc and Łukasz Kurzeja make their third consecutive World Cup outing of the season and the duo are back in action in the MINI after taking the Hungarian tie-breaking win from Al Rajhi. No one has more victories than the local favourite, Hołowczyc with six wins on home soil to his name. They partner team-mates Michał and Julita Małuszyński, who finished second overall last year, in a third X-Raid run John Cooper Works Rally.
Miroslav Zapletal and Marek Sykora are currently fourth in the FIA World Cup standings after finishing just outside the top three in Hungary. Zapletal has been on the podium in Poland no fewer than three times in various different vehicles. Benediktas Vanagas and Filipe Palmeiro will be competing in another Hilux with the Russian crew of Denis Krotov and Konstantin Zhiltsov making a welcome return in a John Cooper Works Buggy.
Dania Akeel will be competing in Europe for only the second time, the Saudi Arabian amassing more experience in T3. She currently leads the category with two wins and a second position, and will be co-driven by Frenchman Stéphane Duple in an RM Sport Mamba. Spaniard Jesus Fuster is second in the T3 World Cup standings, but narrowly leads the European classification after claiming victory in Hungary. Competition in the category will be tough, however, with regular front-runners Santiago Navarro and Kees Koolen also on the provisional entry list.
T4 will be equally hard-fought with the top four contenders for the World title going head to head. Mshari Al-Thefiri currently tops the standings, the Kuwaiti with a 17-point advantage over Saleh Abdullah Al-Saif. Frenchman Claude Fournier is a further two points adrift with Alexandre Re in fourth, the Portuguese claiming victory on the previous two rounds. His two wins put him at the head of the FIA European Cup standings.
Total distance: 784.83km
Selective section distance: 429.27 km
Number of selective sections: 7
Yasir Seaidan/Alexey Kuzmich MINI John Cooper Works Rally
Yazeed Al Rajhi/Michael Orr Toyota Hilux Overdrive
Krzysztof Hołowczyc/Łukasz Kurzeja MINI John Cooper Works Rally
Michal Małuszyński/Julita Małuszyński MINI John Cooper Works Rally
Miroslav Zapletal/Marek Sykora Ford F150 Evo
Benediktas Vanagas/Filipe Palmeiro Toyota Hilux
Denis Krotov/Konstantin Zhiltsov MINI John Cooper Works Buggy
Pedro Dias da Silva/Jose Sa Pires Ford Ranger EXR Proto
Markus Walcher/Stephan Stensky Nissan Navara VK56
Włodzimierz Grajek/Szymon Marciniak BMW X5