In the morning, at the 180-kilometer special stage start it seemed the race results were fixed: the crew of Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov led the FIA World Cup overall standings. Their vast experience of victories in world competitions and performances in the winter races, as well as the leading position did not left much of a chance for victory to the rivals.
However, 50 kilometers to the finish a rail breakage led to the roll over. It took time to put the car to the wheels, and their rivals help was needed.
Andrey Novikov, who was in the third place yesterday, was able to show excellent results, in spite of the time spent trying to remove Vasilyev’s car from the track. However, Novikov’s car hit the rock and damaged the suspension, so its free travel on the right side became a few millimeters higher than it is allowed by the rules. SUPROTEC Racing team requested to make measurements on the left, not damaged side of the car, but the technical delegate of the International Automobile Federation has refused. Thus, the Russian crew was excluded from the World Cup standings.
As a result, the crew of Aron Domzala and Szymon Gospodarczyk from Poland won the FIA World Cup first round. “Silver” goes to Czech Miroslav Zapletal with Slovakian co-driver Marek Sikora. Russian crew of Victor Khoroshavtcev and Anton Nikolaev secured the third position.
Aron Domzala, “The stage was very nice. We had a super pace on the first 100 km, it was really perfect! Then we hit a rock in the middle of the road and we got two punctures. But we changed them and reached the victory!”
In the T2 production standings podium also became multinational. Russian crew of Alexey Titov and Andrey Rusov won the race. It is surprising this was the third race in the driver's life, accompanied by a punctured wheel. But the high pace and mistake-free driving brought victory to the crew at their first FIA World Cup round!
“Bronze” went to the crew from Turkmenistan – Shamyrat Gurbanov and Gurbanberdi Danatarov. Yasir Seaidani from Saudi Arabia with his French co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter became silver medalists. The “Arabian Prince”, who attracted all Karelian cheerleaders’ attention in the last days, performed on snow and ice road for the first time, but was able to adapt quickly to the new surface.
Yasir Seaidani, “Driving on the snow is the same as snowboarding, but only by car. And it is necessary to have warm clothes”.
Unfortunately, the only buggy at this race has not reached the finish line. It was driven by the French crew of Jean-Paul Van Bohemen and Herve Lavergne.
As for the Russian championship, here on the podium we also find flags of other countries. Finnish racers Jouni Ampuja and Markku Hurskainen secured the victory in overall standings. Racers from Finland feel almost like at home in Karelia – the track nature is very similar, and Finns got many opportunities for training on snow and ice.
If to speak about the race “silver”, we return to the story of Novikov brothers’ car damaged suspension. The Technical Commission of the Russian Championship measured free suspension travel on the other side of the car and made sure all parameters complied with the rules. Thus, Andrey and Vladimir Novikovs became silver medalists, and “bronze” went to Victor Khoroshavtcev with Anton Nikolaev.
Jouni Ampuja, “It was nice to come here. I have the experience from the previous years, so I knew what to expect from the rally. It was a really good weekend for us. On the first stage I was, maybe, too careful, then the second yesterday’s stage I made well. Today I went nice, without taking big risks. After all those retirements I have seen on the route, I took care just to get to the finish”.
Crew of Alexey Titov and Andrey Rusov won the Russian Championship (as well as FIA World Cup) in production standings. Konstantin Ivanov and Alexander Gorkov took the second position. Sunday became a double holiday for the driver: in addition the prize place, Konstantin became a father for the fourth time. The third position is secured by Leonid Petrov and Anton Pletenev.
Alexey Titov, “Winter rally raid is a completely different race! It is more similar with the classical rally, because virtually there is no off-road. Today’s route was simply stunning! I would like to thank organizers – it was amazing! I’ve got lots of emotions!”
Mikhail Kostrukov and Oleg Nezhnov in Gazelle Next won Raid Sport standings. The only female driver in the whole field, motocross racing star Tatyana Eliseeva, together with co-driver Alexander Semyonov won the second place, Maxim Kirpilev with Pavel Ushakov from Belgorod became bronze medalists.
Tatyana Eliseeva, “Northern Forest” is my favorite race in the Russian Championship! And I like winter! You get the pleasure, and the race itself is very beautiful! Competition organization is at the top level! There are a lot of small things that make the race cozy and friendly!”
We congratulate the winners and medalists of the world’s only snow and ice rally raid and thank Karelia for hospitality. Dubai takes over from Karelia in the FIA World Cup; it will host the second round of the world off-road series.