A pair of Overdrive Racing Toyota Hiluxes for Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed al-Rajhi and Argentina’s Juan Cruz Yacopini top a 42-car field for the Italian Baja 2022, round three of both the FIA World and European Cups for Cross-Country Bajas. Ten FIA Priority drivers grace the entry list.
While the Toyota duo return on the Pordenone-based event to get some competitive action under their belts before the resumption of the new FIA World Rally-Raid Championship in October, third-seeded Pole Michal Maluszyński (Mini) will be aiming to extend his one-point advantage over Pedro da Silva (Volkswagen) in the FIA European Cup Drivers’ Championship.
T1 category rivals include the Lithuanian duo of Benediktas Vanagas and Edvinas Juskauskas in a pair of Toyota Hiluxes, Portugal’s João Ferreira at the wheel of a Mini JCW Rally and the PRK Sport Rally Team duo of Edgar Condenso and Michael Braun in two Ford Ranger EXR 05 Protos. The PRK Sport Rally Team currently holds a 20-point cushion over the X-raid Mini JCW Team in the FIA European Cup’s Teams Championship.
Several early front-runners in the overall standings for the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas will not be present in Italy and that could enable the T3 category-leading Fernando Alvarez to challenge for top spot in the rankings. The Spaniard currently holds third in the Drivers’ Championship, with the fifth-placed Czech Miroslav Zapletal also present in north-eastern Italy in a Hummer.
Thirteen crews will compete for honours in the T3 category: the South Racing Can-Am Team duo of Alvarez and Saudi Arabian driver Dania Akeel lead the way in their Maverick XRSs.
Santiago Navarro and Jordi Segura represent the FN Speed Team, with Navarro hoping to extend the comfortable lead he has built up in the FIA European Cup’s T3 standings after two rounds. Alvarez already has a useful points’ cushion in the T3 section of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.
T3 rivals in Italy include the experienced Dutchman Erik van Loon and his wife Anja in South Racing Can-Ams, Saudi Arabia’s Mashael Al-Obaidan in an SRT Can-Am and a pair of Overdrive OT3s for Belgian Guillaume de Mevius and Hungary’s Lorinc Meszaros. Seven of the group are FIA Priority drivers.
Meshari Al-Thefiri tops a 10-strong T4 field in his South Racing Can-Am, the Kuwaiti currently holding second place in the T4 standings in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas. He faces competition from Dutch team mate Kees Koolen for T4 points.
Other entrants include FIA European Cup contenders, Miguel Angel Valero, Tomas Bialkowski, Egidijus Valeisa and Amerigo Ventura, and Cristiano da Sousa and Eduard Pons in two further South Racing Can-Ams.
Bialkowski drives a Polaris RZR Pro XP and currently holds a one-point advantage over Ventura (Yamaha YXZ 1000 R) in the battle for T4 honours in the FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.
Competitors will tackle 354.35 competitive kilometres in a route of 619.48km across the flood plains, gravel tracks and river valleys in the Pordenone region.
Action gets underway with a Qualifying Stage of 14.30km between San Martino al Tagliamento and Valvasone late on Friday (July 8th) afternoon.
Competitors then tackle two passes through a 112.48km selective section that starts in Zoppola and finishes in Dignano on Saturday (July 9th). On-stage action concludes with a section of 115.09km between Dignano and Cordenons on Sunday (July 10th) morning.
Italian Baja 2022 – leading entries:
200. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA)/Michael Orr (GBR) Toyota Hilux
201. Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Matias Acosta (ARG) Toyota Hilux
202. Michal Maluszńynski (POL)/Lukasz Kurzeja (POL) Mini JCW Rally
203. Pedro da Silva (PRT)/Viktor Jesus (PRT) Volkswagen Amarok
204. João Ferreira (PRT)/David Monteiro (PRT) Mini JCW Rally
205. Alfredo Alfano (ITA)/Carmen Marsiglia (ITA) Nissan Pathfinder Proto
206. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Hummer H3 Evo
207. Benediktas Vanagas (LTU)/Kuldar Sikk (LTU) Toyota Hilux
208. Edvinas Juskauskas (LTU)/Albert Veliamovic (LTU) Toyota Hilux
209. Emilio Ferroni (ITA)/Daniele Fiorini (ITA) Suzuki Gran Vitara
210. Edgar Lima Condenso (PRT)/Carlos Silva (PRT) Ford Ranger EXR05 Proto
Overall standings after two rounds for the 2022 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas respectively are available on fia.com.
Timetable of events
Friday, July 8
Shakedown, Sedegliano 09.00-11.00
Pre-event press conference, ICIP Pordenone 15.00hrs
Ceremonial start, ICIP Pordenone 17.00hrs
Qualifying stage SS1A (San Martino - 15.18km) First car - 18.10hrs
Saturday, July 9
SS2 (Zoppolo – 112.48km) First car – 08.00hrs
SS3 (Zoppolo – 112.48km) First car – 13.00hrs
Sunday, July 10
SS4 (Dignano- 115.09km) First car - 08.30hrs
Podium ceremony, ICIP Pordenone 13.00hrs