The Polish crew of Krzyzstof Hołowczyc and co-driver Lukasz Kurzeja completely dominated Columna Medica Baja Poland. Victory on each of the five stages enabled the X-Raid Mini JCW Rally T1+ driver to seal a record-breaking ninth victory on his home event and close the gap on his title rivals after five rounds of the 2023 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.
Holowczyc said: “Obviously I am very happy to win my local Baja. We made a good job with the car. We were working on the suspension and the balance of the car and we find some solutions, especially for the stages in Drawsko that were so sandy. I believe we will make another step with the car in Morocco, which is the next event for us.”
Michal Maluszyński and Julita Maluszyńska crewed the second of the X-raid Minis to the runner-up spot, albeit finishing 9min 57.1sec behind Holowczyc.
The final place on the podium was taken by the T3-winning SRT Can-Am Maverick X3, crewed by Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri and his Spanish co-driver Oriol Vidal. They snatched third place after the second of the passes through the Drawsko Pomorskie military proving grounds and managed to hold off the challenge from Poland’s Wlodimierz Grajek, who finished fourth in his Toyota Hilux with co-driver Dominik Jazic.
Holowczyc had edged into an 8.2-second lead over Maluszyński through the opening 5.80km Prologue stage at Szczecin and opted to start the first 156.94km selective section through at Drawsko Pomorskie from first on the road.
He was again quickest and extended his advantage over Maluszyński to 4min 19sec with Grajek moving up to third overall. From then on, Holowczyc dominated proceedings to win every stage, with Maluszyński shadowing him to the finish and Al-Thefiri managing to pass Grajek and hold on to third.
Podium finish for T3-winning Al-Thefiri
Al-Thefiri extended his lead over Brazil’s Otavio Sousa in the FIA T3 Drivers’ Championship with his podium finish and an impressive victory in the category for lightweight prototype cross-country machines at the wheel of his SRT Can-Am Maverick X3.
After Sousa and his Portuguese co-driver João Ferreira lost valuable minutes with damaged suspension following an accident in their South Racing Can-Am, Al-Thefiri was able to coast to the category win by over 10 minutes. Sousa recovered strongly, was second fastest overall on the final stage and managed to hold off his team-mates, Dania Akeel/Taye Perry and Fernando Alvarez/Xavier Panseri, to snatch points for second place.
The winning Kuwaiti said: “We are very happy to finish third overall. Our target was to win our category and we achieved that. Very nice stages and I pushed very hard yesterday to make the big gap and we were able to hold our position today.”
Lithuania’s Tomas Mickus and Darius Leskauskas finished fifth in the category.
De Sousa Batista wins to extend T4 lead
The South Racing Can-Am Team’s Cristiano de Sousa Batista, co-driven by Portuguese co-driver Fausto Moto, extended his lead in the FIA T4 category with a convincing victory.
The Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR driver dominated the five-stage event, winning the Prologue and three of the demanding selective sections, to seal victory over closest title rival Jeremie Warnia (Polaris) and his co-driver Loic Minaudier by 8min 35.4sec. The gap may have been even larger had the Brazilian not stopped on the third stage to lend support to his son Otavio, who was competing in the T3 category.
De Sousa Batista said: “The finish of this Baja and we win the race. We hope to do the same in Portalegre and validate (win) the World Championship.”
Spaniard Ricardo Ramilo Suarez teamed up with Ukraine’s Dmytro Tsyro to round off the T4 podium in their Can-Am, while Spain’s Francisco Rodriguez and Polish drivers Krzysztof Wicentowicz and Patrycja Brochocka finished fourth, fifth and sixth in the class.
The FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies continues with the 37th Baja Portalegre in Portugal on October 26th-28th.
Columna Medica Baja Poland – final result:
1. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Lukasz Kurzeja (POL) Mini JCW Rally 4hr 11min 59.9sec
2. Michal Maluszyński (POL)/Julita Maluszyńska (POL) Mini JCW Rally 4hr 21min 57.0sec
3. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 4hr 34min 23.6sec
4. Wlodzimierz Grajek (POL)/Dominik Jazic (POL) Toyota Hilux 4hr 35min 53.4sec
5. Otavio Sousa (BRA)/João Ferreira (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 4hr 45min 43.4sec
6. Cristiano Batista (BRA)/Fausto Mota (PRT) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR (T4) 4hr 46min 52.1sec
7. Jeremie Warnia (FRA)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) Polaris RZR Pro R Sport (T4) 4hr 55min 27.5sec
8. Ricardo Ramilo Suarez (ESP)/Dmytro Tsyro (UKR) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR (T4) 5hr 03min 46.3sec
9. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Taye Perry (DEU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 5hr 13min 07.5sec
10. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 5hr 23min 04.5sec
11. Francisco Rodriguez (ESP)/Luis Perez Curbelo (ESP) Yamaha YXZ 1000 R (T4) 6hr 05min 17.7sec
12. Magdalena Zajac (POL)/Jakub Brzeziński (POL) Toyota Hilux 6hr 10min 48.8sec
13. Tomas Mickus (LTU)/Darius Leskauskas (LTU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 8hr 11min 27.3sec
14. Ronald Schoolderman (NLD)/Markeren Salomons (NLD) Mitsubishi ASX 8hr 15min 44.3sec
15. František Brutovsky (CZE)/Petr Hauptmann (CZE) Ford F150 Evo 8hr 29min 26.6sec
16. Krzysztof Wicentowicz (POL)/Grzegorz Komar (POL) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR (T4) 10hr 06min 40.5sec
17. Patrycja Brochocka (POL)/Karolina Zysnarska (POL) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR (T4) 11hr 21min 49.1sec
T1 or T1+ unless stated